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N.K. broadcasts arrest of leader’s powerful uncle

N.K. broadcasts arrest of leader’s powerful uncle

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Published : 2013-12-09 09:24
Updated : 2013-12-11 11:41

This still image released Monday by the (North) Korea Central Television shows Jang Song-thaek, former vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, being taken out of a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party. (Yonhap News)

North Korea said Monday its leader’s powerful uncle was purged for “anti-party, anti-revolution activities” including corruption, drug use and gambling.

The North’s state media confirmed the Seoul intelligence agency’s report last week on an apparent ouster of Jang Song-thaek, former vice chairman of the potent National Defense Commission.

Jang has played a double game by pursuing private interests and working to create a faction while pretending to obey the party and leader, the (North) Korean Central News Agency said.

He and his confidants have committed “anti-state, anti-people crimes that do enormous harm to our fight to build a strong, prosperous nation and improve the people’s livelihoods,” the Korean Central News Agency said.

The decision to sack him from all positions was made at a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee on Sunday, it said.

The downfall of Jang marks the latest in a string of purges that Kim has undertaken to cement his power over the past two years. He is married to the youthful dictator’s aunt, Kim Kyong-hui, the younger sister of Kim Jong-il and had often been labeled the country’ second most influential man.

Jang was twice kicked out of Pyongyang’s inner circle but has managed to creep back up the political ladder.

But the detailed listing of his charges, coupled with the report’s unusually stringent tone, may signal an end to his illustrious career in one of the world’s most brutal and reclusive regimes.

The KCNA also accused him of corruption, womanizing, binge drinking and eating, gambling, squandering foreign currency, and living a lavish, depraved life “infected with capitalism.”

Other charges included weakening the control over law enforcement and security agencies, breaching the principles of the parliamentary system, disturbing the national budget management scheme, and jobbing off state assets.

One week ahead of the second anniversary of his father’s death, Kim is forecast to carry out further housecleaning, likely focused on those close to Jang, and other steps to tighten his grip, analysts say.

The North’s harsh attack on Jang carried in the dispatch “exposes its intent to completely bury him not only politically but also as a human,” Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at the Sejong Institute, said in his analysis.

“Given its super hard-line position toward Jang and his aides, the North Korean leadership is inevitably expected to take on bloody purges in the future to remove their trace.”

Seoul said it is closely monitoring the situation in and around North Korea.

“Today’s report officially confirmed the rumors about Jang’s fall,” Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do told reporters.

“It’s difficult for us to offer an outlook (for the Kim regime) here at the moment but I can say that we are keeping tabs on North Korea’s internal circumstances, external relations and other things, with various possibilities in mind.”

Kim Sung-min, the director of Free North Korea, told a news show Monday that Jang was executed along with seven of his aides last Thursday, citing sources in the North.

Meanwhile, China said Monday that Jang’s purge was an “internal affair” in the North. Asked about the incident, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, “We have noted the relevant situation, (but) that is an internal affair. China will stay committed to maintaining traditionally friendly relations with the DPRK.”

By Shin Hyon-hee

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