North Korea said Friday it has executed the uncle of leader Kim Jong-Un, branding veteran fixer Jang Song-Thaek a “traitor for all ages”, as the US and South Korea voiced concern at the shock purge.
In a stunning downfall, Jang — who had been seen as Kim’s political regent and the country’s unofficial number two — was executed on Thursday immediately after a special military trial, state news agency KCNA.
In a viciously worded attack it said he committed such a “hideous crime as attempting 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.”
KCNA said earlier this week that Jang had been removed from all his posts and expelled from the Workers’ Party.
“From long ago, Jang had a dirty political ambition. He dared not raise his head when Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il were alive,” KCNA said, referring to leader Kim’s grandfather and father, who were previous rulers of the dynastic state.
“He began revealing his true colours, thinking that it was just the time for him to realise his wild ambition in the period of historic turn when the generation of the revolution was replaced.”
Jang was married to Kim’s aunt, the daughter of the North’s founding leader Kim Il-sung, and was widely considered to be working to ensure his nephew firmly established his grip on power in the past two years.
Jang had been a prominent fixture in many of the reports and photographs of Kim Jong-un’s public activities, but his appearances have tapered off sharply this year and he has not appeared in official media since early November.
US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said the US could not independently verify the execution but had “no reason” to doubt the KCNA report.
“If confirmed, this is another example of the extreme brutality of the North Korean regime,” Ventrell said. “We are following developments in North Korea closely and consulting with our allies and partners in the region.”