The latest North Korea execution came Thursday as the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un, was declared a traitor who tried to overthrow the state and put to death.
The news of the North Korea execution came only days after Pyongyang broadcasted through state-run media that Jang Song Thaek, who has long been considered the country’s second in power — had already been removed from all his positions of authority amid allegations of corruption, drug use, gambling, womanizing and leading a “dissolute and depraved life.”
State-run news agency KCNA said a tribunal investigated Jang’s crimes, including “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.”
The investigation produced a report that concluded Jang was “a traitor to the nation” and professionally declared he was “worse than a dog.”
White House spokesman Patrick Ventrell said that there was no reason to doubt the report of Jang’s death and if true, it illustrated North Korea’s “extreme brutality.”
“While we cannot independently verify this development, we have no reason to doubt the official KCNA report that Jang Song Thaek has been executed,” Ventrell said. “If confirmed, this is another example of the extreme brutality of the North Korean regime. We are following developments in North Korea closely and consulting with our allies and partners in the region.”
Jang was seen as helping Kim Jong Un consolidate power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, two years ago.
Experts see North Korea’s personnel reshuffle as a sign of Kim Jong Un’s growing confidence, however, mounting fear in Seoul that the removal of such an important part of the North’s government — the predominant supporter of Chinese-style economic reforms — could spell dangerous instability, lead to a miscalculation, or an attack on the South.
Tensions between the two nations remain high on the Korean Peninsula following belligerent threats in March and April by Kim Jong Un’s government against Washington, Seoul and Tokyo, including threats of missile launches with nuclear capabilities and warnings that North Korea will again commence nuclear bomb fuel production.
Jang was married to Kim Jong Un’s aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, the younger sister of Kim Jong Il. State-run media previously “reported” that Jang was “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.