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Asia-pacific

N. Korea executes leader's uncle as 'traitor'

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-13

North Korea has executed the uncle of its leader Kim Jong-un after a shock purge, state news agency KCNA announced early Friday, branding the once-powerful Jang Song Thaek a traitor.

North Korea said on Friday Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un and previously considered the second most powerful man in the secretive state, has been executed after a special military tribunal found him guilty of treason.

"The accused Jang brought together undesirable forces and formed a faction as the boss of a modern day factional group for a long time and thus committed such hideous crime as attempting to overthrow the state," the North's official KCNA news agency said.

The announcement came only days after Pyongyang announced through state media that Jang Song Thaek had been removed from all his posts because of allegations of corruption, drug use, gambling, womanising and leading a "dissolute and depraved life".

Jang was seen as helping Kim Jong Un consolidate power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, two years ago. Jang was the latest and most significant in a series of personnel reshuffles that Kim has conducted in an apparent effort to bolster his power.

Some analysts see the purge as a sign of Kim Jong Un's growing confidence, but there has also been fear in Seoul that the removal of such an important part of the North's government -- seen by outsiders as the leading supporter of Chinese-style economic reforms -- could create dangerous instability or lead to a miscalculation or attack on the South.

Tensions are still high on the Korean Peninsula following a torrent of threats in March and April by Kim Jong Un's government against Washington, Seoul and Tokyo, including vows of missile and nuclear strikes and warnings that Pyongyang would restart nuclear bomb fuel production.

Jang was married to Kim Jong Un's aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, the younger sister of Kim Jong Il.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and Reuters)

Date created : 2013-12-13

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