Jang Song-thaek, North Korea’s No. 2 figure, is believed to have attempted to overthrow the regime and hoist Kim Jong-un’s elder brother as the country’s new leader, sources said Tuesday.
Jang, the revered uncle and mentor of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has been publicly ousted on the charges of faction-building, gambling and other violations.
“The reason Jang was purged in such a merciless fashion was because he is suspected of being connected to Kim Jong-nam,” an anonymous source told The Herald Business newspaper. “In light of frequent friction with Kim in issues like foreign relations and economic reforms, Jang is presumed to have shown actions to replace Kim Jong-un with Jong-nam.”
Another source claimed that a close confidant of Jang recently contacted Kim Jong-nam. Jang is believed to have maintained a close personal relationship with his eldest nephew.
Experts have said that the alleged treason may be the reason why the communist regime publicly humiliated Jang by broadcasting his arrest on Monday.
An unnamed government source declined to comment on the reason for Jang’s downfall, although he hinted that there appears to have been “an issue directly related to the Kim Jong-un regime.”
By Yoon Min-sik and news reports