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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs