The uncle of North Korea’s leader has been executed.
Jang Song Thaek, once considered the second most powerful man in the country, was arrested and tried for treason … that’s according to the official KCNA news agency.
It is not known how the death sentence was carried out or when these photos were taken.
North Korea’s current leader, Kim Jong Un, seen here in civilian clothes, is the grandson of founder Kim Ill Sung.
It had been considered his uncle Jang would help nephew Kim Jong Un establish himself in power.
But this position also made Jang the greatest threat to the young leader.
South Korea says it is watching developments …. the two Korea’s are still officially at war, so any events in the northern state are followed closely.
Euronews spoke to Aidan Foster-Carter, Senior Modern Korea Reseach Fellow.
euronews: No warning, and what has been described as a brutal action. it’s quite a powerful message, it would seem, to send to North Koreans……
Aidan Foster-Carter: It’s an extraordinary powerful message and in a way and an unprecedented one. Of course this is a Stalinist regime. Purges as such are nothing new, but they are normally done a bit more discretely than this. People just suddenly stop appearing or if they are very senior then illness gets mentioned. What is astonishing about this, it that it is so public and furthermore that the execution of Jang Song-thaek who is the uncle by marriage of the leader that a great long charge sheet has been mentioned all sorts of things – plotting military coups which North Koreans can read about, you would never normally get any discourse of that kind.
euronews: Can you give us a sense how much this purge could be a risky move ?
Aidan Foster-Carter: I think it is risky there are two views on this and time will tell fairly quickly. The counterview – which is not mine – is that it shows how strong the young man is, that we’ve underestimated Kim Jong-Un, only 30, but he now feels confident enough to rule without his uncle and mentor, and he’s sending a very strong message… well maybe so… But I think to the contrary that the very fact that he has gone so public is a risk factor. It suggests that what we had thought was a fairly stable transition over the last few years since his father Kim Jong-Il died, where the main sign of political activity and factionalism was actually the party, the leader with his now late uncle trying to reign back, claw back, the army a bit who had a lot of priviledges under his father: On the contrary now there is factionalism at the very height of the party itself, and Jang Song-thaek may not be the last; Others must be quaking in their boots and wondering if the time us up for them as well.
euronews:And just to end with, what do you think what can the outside world do ?
Aidan Foster-Carter: Not a lot. China is key and China took a strategic position some time ago. But though it does not like North Korea very much at all, nonetheless it fears the chaos of a North Korean collapse, loose nukes and all of that. That’s a worse propect than what they have now. So China will grit it’s teeth China will go on trying to change North Korea through trade and development. A policy which maybe would work in a long run, but it does rather counter to UN sanctions and so on. We heard just this week that another North Korean border town has signed a deal to invite Chinese investment. That happened since Jang Song-thaek was purged even though Jang was thought to be pretty much in charge of all that sort of economic and business things with China. So it may be for them business as usual. For the rest of us frankly, you know, it’s a grim spectacle to watch, but there is no easy answer.
euronews: Aidan Foster-Carter, thank you very much.