North Korea said Friday that it had executed Kim Jong Un's uncle as a traitor for trying to seize supreme power, a stunning end for the leader's former mentor, long considered the country's No. 2 official.
In a sharp reversal of the long-held popular image of Jang Song Thaek as a kindly uncle guiding Kim Jong Un as he consolidated power, the North's official Korean Central News Agency indicated that Jang instead saw the death of Kim Jong Il in December 2011 as an opportunity to challenge his nephew and win power.
Jang had been tried and executed, North Korea said, for "attempting to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state." It called him a "traitor to the nation for all ages" and "worse than a dog."
The unusually detailed announcement came only days after North Korea said it had "eliminated" Jang from all his posts. Despite the strong language and allegations in the announcement Monday of Jang's fall, there had been no sign in North Korean media of an imminent execution.
In Seoul, top presidential security and government ministers began an unscheduled meeting Friday to discuss Jang's execution and its aftermath, according to the presidential Blue House.
During his two years in power Kim Jong Un has overseen nuclear and missile tests, other high-profile purges and a barrage of threats this spring, including vows of nuclear strikes against Washington and Seoul. His father, Kim Jong Il, took a much lower public profile when he rose to power after the death of his father, Kim Il Sung, in 1994.
North Korea has recently turned to attempts at diplomacy with South Korea and the United States. But tensions have remained high since Pyongyang's threats in March and April. Those included warnings that it would restart nuclear bomb fuel production.
There was no immediate word about the fate of Jang's wife, Kim Kyong Hui, the younger sister of Kim Jong Il. She was also seen as an important mentor to Kim Jong Un after her brother's 2011 death.
Jang was described earlier this week 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.
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