North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is believed to have dismissed a powerful uncle, a man key to his rise to power, from his posts, South Korean lawmakers said on Tuesday, a move that could help consolidate his power base with a younger guard of aides.
Jang Song Thaek was likely sacked as vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission and as a department head of the ruling Workers’ Party, lawmaker Jung Cheong-rae said, citing a senior South Korean official with the National Intelligence Service (NIS).
Analysts who watch the North’s power structure say Jang’s removal would not have been possible without the approval of the third Kim to rule in the family dynasty, Kim Jong Un.
There was no immediate mention of Jang’s fate on North Korea’s KCNA news agency. Two members of the South Korean parliament’s Intelligence Committee told separate news briefings that the NIS had confirmed the public execution of two close aides to Jang in the North’s ruling Workers’ Party for corruption.
The removal of Jang, a key figure in the power transition following the 2011 death of Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, could tip the balance in the fiercely competitive group of confidants surrounding the current leader but was unlikely to impact on Kim Jong Un’s hold on power, experts said.
Koh Yu-hwan of Dongguk University in Seoul, a leading expert on the North’s leadership, said, “I think the young elite had Kim get rid of Jang, meaning that he will rule without a guardian.”
[Reuters]Tags: Jang Song-thaek, Kim Jong Un, north korea