Jang Song Thaek (67), who had been considered the second most powerful official in the country and a mentor to his nephew, was killed immediately after a trial.
It is believed he was executed in the customary North Korean way by a firing squad. In a statement Pyongyang called him a ‘traitor to the nation for all ages,’ ‘worse than a dog’ and ‘despicable human scum’ who planned a military coup. Jang was purged from all of his political positions last week and from the Workers’ Party, in a move that most political observers believe sealed his fate.
His execution is the third in just a month after Kim ordered the killing of his two closest former confidants, Ri Yong-ha and Jang Soo-kil. It was alleged that Jang had conspired against the Kim family and sought greater political power after the death of the former dictator.
The younger Kim, who is just 30, reportedly became jealous of his uncle and ordered his death during a military trial that lasted less than a day. Powerful pictures emerged of Jang being dragged from an official party meeting last week, as he was accused of being a ‘drug taking’ adulterer.
“However, despicable human scum Jang, who was worse than a dog, perpetrated thrice cursed acts of treachery in betrayal of such profound trust and warmest paternal love shown by the party and the leader for him,” the statement said. “From long ago, Jang had a dirty political ambition. He dared not to raise his head when Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il were alive. But reading their faces, Jang had an axe to grind and involved himself in dirty double-dealing.”
It said Jang had gambled up to $7 million from his secret coffers at an overseas casino and was the driving force behind North Korea’s poor economic state. He was also accused of distributing pornography among the party’s top leaders.
“I attempted to trigger off discontent among service personnel and people, despite the fact that the economy of the country and people’s living (conditions) are driven into catastrophe,” Jang was reported as saying. North Korea watchers are divided on whether the execution is a reflection of turmoil within the government or a sign that Kim is consolidating power.