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Rumors flying over downfall of N.Korea’s No.2

In light of Jang Song-thaek -- the once-powerful uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un -- being dismissed from all posts, rumors are sprouting over the fall of the hermit kingdom’s former No.2.

On Tuesday, The Herald Business newspaper reported that Jang had attempted to overthrow the youthful leader in order to hoist Kim’s elder half-brother Jong-nam as the new leader. The newspaper, citing sources, said that Jang and the North Korea leader had frequent disagreements over foreign relations and economic reforms.

The source said alleged treason may be the reason why Kim chose to publicly humiliate his uncle by broadcasting his arrest on Monday.

Other rumors, such as one about Jang’s possible execution, popped up as South Koreans struggled to comprehend such a rapid shift in power dynamics among their northern neighbors.

The most shocking and perhaps the most far-fetched of all these rumors were delivered by Wednesday by a local weekly tabloid, which claimed that Jang was purged because of his extramarital affairs with Kim Jong-un’s wife Ri Sol-ju.

A woman presumed to be Ri Sol-ju is pictured in this file photo. (Yonhap News)
A woman presumed to be Ri Sol-ju is pictured in this file photo. (Yonhap News)

Ilyo Sisa, citing sources, claimed Ri’s supposed affair with Jang was revealed in August. This infuriated Kim and led him to purge his uncle, the paper claimed. It pointed out that “womanizing” was cited by Pyongyang as one of the reasons it removed Jang from his posts.

The tabloid, however, did not offer any proof behind its claims. Seoul has yet to comment on any of the rumors on why Jang, once so prominent, has lost all his powers.