Kim Jong-un’s uncle was killed after being stripped naked and fed to a pack of hungry dogs, according to reports in a Chinese state-backed newspaper.
North Korea has already described Jang Song Thaek as “despicable human scum, worse than a dog,” but the report, which appears in Hong Kong’s Wen Wei Po newspaper, suggests he may have met his end in the jaws of dogs.
The account - which cannot be verified - describes how Jang Song Thaek and five of his aides were stripped naked and fed to 120 hungry hounds, who had been starved for three days. The whole process lasted is reported to have lasted an hour, and as they were eaten, hundreds of officials watched.
The Singaporean Straits Times claims that the brutal account listed alongside a number of other criticisms in the report shows how Beijing is displeased with the changing regime, but currently there is no consistent editorial line in Chinese state media. The method of execution by dogs has also not been confirmed by North Korea.
Aidan Foster-Carter, a senior research fellow in Sociology and Modern Korea at Leeds University, told The Independent: “I put no cruelty past the North Korean regime, but it does sound extreme even for them. In the recent past, they did have an effigy of the South Korean president mauled by dogs.
“However the killing of Jang Song Thaek has been an episode of state terrorism and the fact they did purge him and it was done so publicly shows that the military and Kim Jong-un is trying to warn people not to revolt and how savage punishments can been.
“Although China clearly allows its media and social media to be ruder than in the past this doesn’t mean they are going to stop supporting North Korea.”
Kim Jong-un described the execution of his 67-year-old uncle as the removal of “factionalist filth”, in his New Year message, adding that his purge left North Korea in a much stronger position.
Jang Song Thaek was a key member of North Korea's first family, a man widely seen as regent to leader Kim Jong-un, In all, at least eight people from Jang's circle were executed in the purge - alongside the director himself.