SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea announced today that it has purged leader Kim Jong Un’s uncle, considered the country’s second most powerful official, accusing him of corruption, drug use, gambling, womanizing and generally leading a “dissolute and depraved life.”
The young North Korean leader will now rule without the relative long seen as his mentor as he consolidated power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, two years ago. Jang Song Thaek’s fall, detailed in a lengthy dispatch by state media, is the latest and most significant in a series of personnel reshuffles 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 that the removal of such an important part of the government could create dangerous instability.
Jang – who is married to Kim Jong Un’s aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, the younger sister of Kim Jong Il – was described by state media as “abusing his power,” being “engrossed in irregularities and corruption,” and taking drugs and squandering money at casinos while undergoing medical treatment in a foreign country.