News / Asia

N. Korean Leader's Uncle Executed

People watch television news showing Jang Song-thaek in court before his excution on December 12, 2013, at the rail station in Seoul, Dec. 13, 2013.
People watch television news showing Jang Song-thaek in court before his excution on December 12, 2013, at the rail station in Seoul, Dec. 13, 2013.
Daniel Schearf
North Korea's state media have announced the execution of leader Kim Jong Un's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, for attempting to overthrow the state.

The declaration comes just days after Jang, considered the country's second in command, was publicly ousted from power for alleged disloyalty and corruption.

South Korea says it is now closely watching for further signs of instability in the nuclear-armed North.

Trial, conviction for list of charges

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency early Friday reported a military tribunal overnight tried and executed Jang Song Thaek.

KCNA said Jang, the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un and assumed second in command, was found guilty of attempting to overthrow the state, party, and leadership.

The article, headlined, “Traitor Jang Song Thaek Executed,” said he committed “counter-revolutionary” acts. It called Jang “human scum” and “worse than a dog.”

Pyongyang's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed pictures of Jang standing at the military trial, bowing in submission with guards on both sides.

High level executions rare

Lee Yun-keol is president of the North Korea Strategic Information Service Center, a private research institution. He says the rapid execution demonstrates leader Kim Jong Un has not yet stabilized his grip on power.

He says there has never been a case where someone was executed after a special military trial held by North Korea’s state security department. He says that usually criminals are sent to political camps and receive harsh punishment until their death. He says Jang Song Thaek’s execution shows that Kim Jong Un’s regime has become relatively weaker than before and there are many forces supporting Jang’s power hidden inside North Korea.

Jang Song Thaek and his wife, Kim Kyong Hui, acted as mentors to Kim Jong Un when he became third generation ruler after his father Kim Jong Il's death in 2011.

KCNA claimed Jang plotted for years to take power from the Kim family and that his work began in earnest after Kim Jong Il's demise.

Jang was publicly ousted from power Sunday and stripped of all titles. He faced a laundry list of accusations including factionalism, ignoring orders, and selling off national resources on the cheap.

Political analysts say the 30-year-old North Korean leader saw Jang, more than twice his age, as a rival as he sought to secure sole control over the country.

Andrei Lankov is a professor of Korean history at Kookmin University. Interviewed by VOA via Skype, he says the publicity of the execution is likely intended to scare officials into obedience but it could also encourage rebellion.

“Under Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung they very seldom killed high level officials. Now they are not secure, they know it, and it means that if they face a threat, if somebody powerful enough is aware that he is going to be purged soon, he might seriously consider a coup or other kind of violent resistance to the regime,” Lankov said.

South Korea concerned

Jang's dramatic downfall raises alarm bells in Seoul as political change in North Korea is often accompanied by belligerent words or actions as a show of strength.

South Korea's office of the president on Friday held an urgent national security meeting to discuss the implications for stability on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea's military has been conducting winter drills this month.

South Korea's Defense Ministry spokesman Wi Yong-seob says they are closely monitoring the military for more aggressive movements.

He says it is possible that North Korea may conduct a fourth nuclear test or launch missiles but there is no special movement in the missile launch site or nuclear test site so far.

South Korea's Ministry of Unification is responsible for inter-Korean relations. Spokesman Kim Eui-do said the government was watching the events with concern.

He says the government is checking the internal situation in North Korea and considering various possibilities. He says they are watching North Korea's announcements and reactions and if there is any internal change from now on.

South Korea said it would work closely on the issue with allies and related governments.

The U.S. State Department said, if confirmed, the execution is another example of the extreme brutality of the North Korean regime.

VOA Seoul Bureau Producer Youmi Kim contributed to this report

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Edvin from: Albania
January 06, 2014 1:56 PM
What has happened is a common phenomenon for communist countries. Unfortunately, communism and its extensions are not being treated in the democratic world in the same way fascism does. And that may cause a threat to democracy and freedom in our societies. We've heard a lot of bad things about the famous Senator McCarthy, but if through his tough ways he's been able to prevent the establishment of such regimes in the Western society, then maybe we must dare to consider also appreciating this contribution of him.

by: JerryFrey from: USA
December 13, 2013 11:23 AM
Behind the curtain: Fascinating pictures from inside North Korea give a rare glimpse inside the secretive Communist state
http://napoleonlive.info/see-the-evidence/facts-about-north-korea-2/

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
December 13, 2013 10:21 AM
There is nothing new here. The wording of the accusation is not true. But there was an element of truth in it - a rebellion. The element of truth in the accusation of the leader's uncle is that he became both weary and disillusioned about the North Korean system and advocated for change. The unfortunate man must have seen how Iran, just yesterday reintegrated into world affairs while North Korea remained an outlaw.

Perhaps he had been vehement in demanding a change, but a coup.., No! Like the blood of the early Christians became the seed of the Church, so also the blood of liberals and freedom fighters inside North Korea will form the seed of discord within the iron curtain, and its roots will tear down the walls of division. Soon, and very soon, Kim Jong Un will be laid bare with no supporters. North Korea will be about to be liberated from the non-progressive young madman's grip.
In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 13, 2013 7:06 PM
I agree with you. North Korea could be the last county where an autocracy remains to be able to execute any protesters with no pleas.I am sure N. Korean regime should break down near future. But how could it be achieved? With interference of China? With more heavy sanctions from the world? Or by regicide from inside?

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 13, 2013 12:58 AM
I wonder how many people would follow Jang Song Thaek. What is the fate of Jan's wife, or aunt of Kim Jong Un? I am afraid the number of victims would expand as Kim developes delusion to suspect and kill his surroundings no matter how testimony exists. I agree and dare to expect it may happen an awared man would punish Kim before he was executed.

by: Anonymous
December 12, 2013 11:50 PM
Wow! I can't believe that they did that. IF he was a criminal, then send him to jail, don't take his life. Taking his life was a bigger crime.

by: Anonymous
December 12, 2013 11:28 PM
I have no doubt in me that an implosion will occur from within,which might even consume the erratic leader
In Response

by: Anonymoose from: nowhere
December 13, 2013 12:49 PM
Ahh yes...
Regicide is slowly creeping in.

by: Markt` from: Virginia
December 12, 2013 5:56 PM
I had a feeling about this one....when the story first broke a week or so ago I thought to myself, "he'll be dead soon." I was right.
In Response

by: Kaalmooye from: Nairobi
December 13, 2013 12:16 AM
You were not expecting to see O J Simpson soap opera style in Pyongyang, right?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More