North Korea executes Kim Jong-un’s uncle as a traitor

State media said Jang was tried for treason by a special military tribunal and executed Thursday.

Written by Associated Press | Pyongyang | Published:December 14, 2013 1:43 am

North Korea Friday said it executed Kim Jong-un’s uncle as a traitor for trying to seize supreme power,a stunning end for the leader’s former mentor,long considered the country’s No. 2.

In a sharp reversal of the popular image of Jang Song Thaek as a kindly uncle guiding young leader Kim Jong-un as he consolidated power,the North’s official Korean Central News Agency indicated that Jang instead saw the death of Kim’s father,Kim Jong Il,in December 2011 as an opportunity to challenge his nephew and win power.

Just days ago,North Korea accused Jang,67,of corruption,womanizing,gambling and taking drugs,and said he’d been “eliminated” from all his posts.

But Friday’s allegations,which couldn’t be independently confirmed,were linked to a claim that he tried “to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state”.

Pyongyang’s statement called him a “traitor to the nation for all ages”,“worse than a dog” and “despicable human scum” who planned a military coup — rhetoric often reserved in state propaganda for South Korean leaders.

State media said Jang was tried for treason by a special military tribunal and executed Thursday.

In the North Korean capital,people crowded around billboards in a subway station displaying the morning paper and news of the execution.

North Korea’s main newspaper Rodong Sinmun ran a headline on its website that said: “Eternal traitor firmly punished”.

There are fears in Seoul that the removal of Jang and his followers — two of his aides were executed last month,South Korea’s National Intelligence Service said — could lead to a miscalculation or even an attack on the South.

Top South Korean presidential security and government ministers held an unscheduled meeting Friday to discuss Jang’s execution and its aftermath,according to the presidential Blue House. Seoul’s Defence Ministry said the North Korean military has not shown any unusual activities and that there is not any suspicious activity at the North’s nuclear test site and missile launch pads.

There are also questions about what the purge means for North Korea’s relationship with its only major ally,China. Jang had been seen as the leading supporter of Chinese-style economic reforms and an important link between Pyongyang and Beijing.

There was no immediate word about the fate of Jang’s wife,Kim Kyong Hui,the younger sister of Kim Jong Il,although some analysts believe that because she is directly related to the nation’s founder,Kim Il Sung,and has been reportedly ill,she may be spared Jang’s fate.

The White House said “if confirmed,this is another example of the extreme brutality of the North Korean regime.”

The KCNA report was unusually specific in its accusations at times.

For instance,it criticized Jang for not rising and applauding his nephew’s appointment to a senior position because Jang “thought that if Kim Jong-un’s base and system for leading the army were consolidated,this would lay a stumbling block in the way of grabbing the power.”

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