Jang Song-thaek relatives also executed

All relatives of the executed uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, including children and the country’s ambassadors to Cuba and Malaysia, have also been put to death at the leader’s instruction, multiple sources said Sunday.

Jang Song-thaek, the once-powerful uncle, was executed last month on charges of attempting to overthrow the communist regime, including contemplating a military-backed coup.

“Extensive executions have been carried out for relatives of Jang Song-thaek,” one source said on condition of anonymity. “All relatives of Jang have been put to death, including even children.”

The executed relatives include Jang’s sister Jang Kye-sun, her husband and Ambassador to Cuba Jon Yong-jin, and Ambassador to Malaysia Jang Yong-chol, who is a nephew of Jang, as well as his two sons, the sources said.

All of them were recalled to Pyongyang in early December and executed, they said. The sons, daughters and even grandchildren of Jang’s two brothers were all executed, they said.

“Some relatives were shot to death by pistol in front of other people if they resisted while being dragged out of their apartment homes,” another source said.

Some relatives by marriage, including the wife of the ambassador to Malaysia, have been spared from executions and sent to remote villages along with their maiden families, according to the sources.

“The executions of Jang’s relatives mean that no traces of him should be left,” a source said. “The purge of the Jang Song-thaek people is under way on an extensive scale from relatives and low-level officials.”

[Yonhap News]

The revamping of the North Korean power structure

Besides ousting his uncle and guardian Jang Song-taek, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to be completing revamping the power structure of the regime, now having replaced about half of the top cadres in the Workers Party, government and military in the year and 10 months since he took power.

According to the South Korean Unification Ministry, Kim has replaced 97 of 218 party heads, government ministers and senior military officers since his father Kim Jong-il died in December 2001.

And some 44 percent of military commanders have also been ousted, replacing elderly officers from Kim Jong-il’s time to younger officers (in their 50s).

South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae told lawmakers rumors that Jang Song-taek’s closest confidants Ri Yong-ha and Jang Su-gil were publicly executed in late November for damaging the Workers Party have been confirmed.

Jang’s brother-in-law, the North Korean Ambassador to Cuba, Jon Yong-jin, is apparently set to return to Pyongyang on Thursday. A diplomatic source in Beijing said Jon appears to have been recalled. Jang’s nephew and Ambassador to Malaysia Jang Yong-chol has already been recalled.

The Unification Minister said no harm appears to have come to Jang himself, though his whereabouts are a mystery.

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is apparently away from Pyongyang, judging by a sighting of his personal train.