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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Tour Will Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

US secretary of state to visit 5 countries in the Middle East, South Asia in bid to strengthen economic and security ties, ease concerns over deal with Tehran 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs