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.Tags: Jang Song Taek, Kim Jong Un, north korea, purge