North Korea confirms Kim’s uncle purged
SEOUL - The Associated Press
Jang Song Thaek is being forcibly removed from a party meeting. REUTERS photoNorth Korea announced today that it had sacked leader Kim Jong-un’s uncle, long considered the country’s No. 2 power, saying corruption, drug use, gambling, womanizing and generally leading a “dissolute and depraved life” had caused Pyongyang’s highest-profile fall from grace since Kim took power two years ago.
The removal of Jang Song-thaek, once seen as Kim’s mentor, is the most significant in a series of purges the young leader has conducted in an apparent effort to bolster his power since his father’s 2011 death.
The dispatch from the North’s state media came about a week after South Korea’s spy agency said two of Jang’s closest assistants had been executed for corruption. The allegations against Jang, 67, couldn’t be independently confirmed, and there was no mention of further punishment for Jang. State TV showed images of two uniformed guards holding Jang by the arms at a meeting of the country’s Political Bureau.
Jang, seen by outsiders as the North’s leading supporter of Chinese-style economic reforms, has reportedly been cast down before only to return to power. But yesterday’s announcement was especially shrill, even by the standards of North Korea’s state media, suggesting this time he won’t be coming back.
Jang, who is married to Kim Jong-un’s aunt, Kim Kyong-hui, was described as “abusing his power.” The dispatch also said he had “improper relations with several women.”