Kim Jong Un's Uncle Disappears From His High-Ranking Post

Tuesday, 03 Dec 2013 12:07 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Kim Jong Un's uncle, Jang Song-taek, has "very likely" been removed from his high-ranking government post in the North Korean regime, two South Korean lawmakers said on Tuesday.

The news marks the first governmental upheaval since the 30-year-old Kim assumed the title of Supreme Leader of North Korea in December 2011 following his father's death.

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Jang Song-taek, who was widely considered the power behind the throne, was most likely removed from his posts as vice-chairman of North Korea's powerful National Defense Commission and as a department head of the ruling Workers' party, the Guardian reported.

The news was made public by South Korean politician Jung Cheong-rae, who cited the nation's National Intelligence Service (NIS) as his source.

"The briefing by an NIS senior official was that they believe Jang Song-taek has lost his posts," Jung told reporters at a news briefing, the Guardian reported. "Following that, the NIS said it believes Jang Song-taek has not been seen and has lost his posts."

In his address, Jung added that two of Jang's aides had also been executed for corruption.

The news was not immediately confirmed or denied by North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency.

If the reports are true, North Korea researcher Cheong Seong-chang of Seoul’s Sejong Institute told The Washington Post that the dismissal suggests that "Kim Jong Un’s grab on power is strong, and the competition to be loyal to him is becoming fiercer."

Jang has been married to former leader Kim Jong Il's sister for the past four decades.

The Associated Press reported that Jang was seen as a powerful influence who initially helped Jong Un consolidate his power following his father's death.

"If Jang’s dismissal is in fact true, we can interpret it as Kim Jong Un removing a figure who got in the way of his direct ruling system," Kim Yong-hyun, a professor at Dongguk University in Seoul told The Post. "Kim Jong Un could have felt his presence and influence burdensome."

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