Kim Jong-un's uncle 'purged' for drugs, sex and gambling

Dec 9, 2013

Jang Song-thaek dismissed as 'power behind throne' due to capitalist and anti-revolutionary behaviour

KIM JONG UN’S uncle has been "purged" from his position within the North Korean regime due to behaviour described as “criminal, dissolute and depraved”, The Guardian says.

An unusually detailed statement from the regime’s official news agency, KCNA, said Jang Song-thaek’s crimes included faction-building and capitalist behaviour involving drug use, womanising and gambling. The downfall of a man often described as North Korea’s second most powerful statesman, is part of “sweeping changes to the power apparatus” wrought by Jong-un since he inherited the leadership from his father in December 2011, experts say.

Another key figure who had been seen as a mentor to Jong-un – Ri Yong Ho, then military chief – was removed due to “ill health” last year, The Guardian says.

Jang Song-thaek was considered “the power behind the throne”, according to the rolling news channel France 24. KCNA says he is accused of trying to “increase his force and build his base..." within the regime and “doing tremendous harm to our party and revolution”. The agency added that Jang was guilty of having "improper relations with several women”, becoming "affected by the capitalist way of living", using drugs and “squandering” foreign currency.

Analysts told France 24 that Jang Song-thaek’s primary role had been to oversee a smooth transition of power following the death of Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il. It is believed North Korea’s young leader came to increasingly “resent” his uncle.

"Jong-un has built a solid power base for the past two years, and he no longer needed a regent who appeared to be increasingly powerful and threatening," said researcher Paik Hak-Soon of South Korea’s Sejong Institute think tank.

France 24 points out that Jang has fallen out of favour before. In 2004 he underwent "re-education" as a steel mill labourer after being suspected of corruption, but made a comeback the following year.

Most analysts believe Kim Jong-un’s uncle is unlikely to be rehabilitated this time. His current whereabouts are unknown.

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