UK & World News

  • 9 December 2013, 14:01

North Korea: Kim Jong-Un's Uncle Purged

The once-powerful uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has been expelled from the government for a string of alleged crimes including double-dealing, womanising and drug-taking.

An address on state TV said Jang Song Thaek was guilty of "dissolute and depraved" behaviour and of "dreaming different dreams".

The sacking of the man regarded as the second most powerful in the secretive state comes after reports in South Korean media that one of his aides had sought asylum in South Korea.

The North's official KCNA news agency said General Jang had been removed from all his posts and sacked from the ruling Workers' Party during a meeting of its politburo attended and "guided" by Mr Kim.

"Jang and his followers committed criminal acts baffling imagination and they did tremendous harm to our party and revolution," the report said.

"Jang pretended to uphold the party and leader, but was engrossed in such factional acts as dreaming different dreams and involving himself in double-dealing behind the scenes.

"Affected by the capitalist way of living, Jang committed irregularities and corruption, and led a dissolute and depraved life."

The report did not say if Gen Jang had been detained or charged with any crime and also failed to mention the unidentified defected aide, who managed funds for him.

According to cable news network YTN and the Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper, the aide was being protected by South Korean officials in a secret location in China.

If his defection is confirmed, it would be the most serious for North Korea in 15 years.

South Korea's National Intelligence Service previously said it believed Gen Jang had been relieved of his posts in November. It also said two of his close associates had been executed recently for corruption.

His sacking means Pyongyang is undergoing its biggest leadership upheaval since the death in 2011 of former leader Kim Jong-Il, Mr Kim's father.

Among Gen Jang's senior party and military posts, he was vice chairman of the country's top military body, the National Defence Commission.

Gen Jang is married to Mr 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.

A South Korean official said last week that Gen Jang was probably alive and in no immediate physical danger, as was his wife, Kim Kyong Hui.

Experts say Gen Jang's removal will help Mr Kim consolidate his power base with a group of younger aides.

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