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North Korea Confirms Purge of Leader's Uncle

North Korea has taken the rare step of publicly purging Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un.

The official Korean Central News Agency said Monday that Jang had been removed from all of his official posts and expelled from the ruling party. The report accused him of several criminal acts, including corruption, womanizing and drug use.

State television aired photos it said showed Jang being escorted out of a Worker's Party meeting by uniformed officers Sunday. The photos show Mr. Kim sitting at the podium of the same meeting.

Jung Young-tae, a researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, tells VOA's Korean service that releasing photos of Jang's ouster will help consolidate power for Mr. Kim.



"...such a public purging sends a message to the public that someone as powerful as Jang can also be charged with committing an anti-regime crime. That consolidates and expedites the notion that Kim is the sole leader of North Korea."



Jang is married to Kim Jong Un's aunt, Kim Kyong Hui. It is not clear what will happen to him now or if he will face formal criminal charges.



Nick Bisley, a North Korean analyst at Australia's Latrobe University, says the younger Kim, believed to be about 30 years of age, is decisively striking out on his own.



"I think he's feeling confident. Whether this confidence is a good thing from a longer-run or external point of view is another question. And I think the extent to which he's really severing himself from his father's legacy, so to speak, is potentially disconcerting."



Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korea Studies in Seoul says the wording of Monday's announcement indicates more purges are still to come.



"The use of the language Jang Song Thaek's group' in the statement foreshadows that additional purging will follow. Pyongyang will now target Jang's supporters not only within the party, government, and military but also the provincial government."



Last week, South Korea's intelligence agency, which revealed Jang's ouster from power a week ago, also said two of his aides have been publicly executed.

(This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.)

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