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Did Jang’s cockiness lead to his downfall?

Did Jang’s cockiness lead to his downfall?

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Published : 2013-12-13 18:28
Updated : 2013-12-13 18:28

In light of the little-expected purge and execution of North Korea’s former No. 2 Jang Song-thaek, some are saying that Jang’s arrogance may have led to his downfall.

North Korea, as it sentenced Kim Jong-un’s uncle to death, said that Jang acted in an insolent fashion when Kim was formerly announced as Kim Jong-il’s heir in September 2010.

It said that Jang “halfheartedly” clapped his hands for his nephew while the rest of the high-ranking officials erupted in thunderous applause.

Several photographs suggest that Jang behaved disrespectfully toward his nephew after the junior Kim succeeded his father as the communist country’s new leader.

A January photo of a meeting by Pyongyang’s ruling Workers’ Party shows Jang looking away while Kim is delivering a speech. Another photo of the meeting shows Jang slumped in his chair while listening to the youthful leader’s remarks.

When Kim inspected North Korea’s military in November, Jang was photographed walking behind Kim with a hand in his pocket. Walking with a hand in one’s pocket in the company of a superior is considered rude among Koreans.

These photos imply that Jang may have acted presumptuously around the new leader.

“Jang’s crime is that he was a No. 2 who tried to become No. 1,” said Hong Hyun-ik, an analyst at the Sejong Institute.

“North Korea, by nature, cannot have a second-in-command. But Jang acted as one under the special situation of having to assist youthful Kim,” said Hong. “He needed to be extra careful, but it appears that he was not.”

(minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)

 

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