North Korea state media announced Thursday that Kim Jong Un’s uncle—a man who was once considered to be the second most powerful official in the Hermit Kingdon—has been executed for attempting to overthrow the government.
The news came as something of a surprise given Jang Song Thaek’s previous role within the government, where he was believed to have helped Kim Jong Un consolidate power after the death of his father two years ago. Still, there had been rumblings of palace trouble, with recent reports suggesting that Jang Song Thaek had already been ousted from his position within Kim Jong Un’s inner circle.
The official announcement came via the official North Korean English-language news site, KCNA, which—in its typically superlative-heavy and bombastic fashion—branded Jang Song Thaek everything from a “traitor for all ages” to “despicable human scum” to “worse than a dog.” Here’s a snippet from the KCNA report:
The accused is a traitor to the nation for all ages who perpetrated anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts in a bid to overthrow the leadership of our party and state and the socialist system. …
He held higher posts than before and received deeper trust from supreme leader Kim Jong Un, in particular. The political trust and benevolence shown by the peerlessly great men of Mt. Paektu were something he hardly deserved. It is an elementary obligation of a human being to repay trust with sense of obligation and benevolence with loyalty.
However, despicable human scum Jang, who was worse than a dog, perpetrated thrice-cursed acts of treachery in betrayal of such profound trust and warmest paternal love shown by the party and the leader for him. From long ago, Jang had a dirty political ambition. He dared not raise his head when Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il were alive. But, reading their faces, Jang had an axe to grind and involved himself in double-dealing. He began revealing his true colors, thinking that it was just the time for him to realize his wild ambition in the period of historic turn when the generation of the revolution was replaced.
According to the Associated Press, Jang Song Thaek’s ouster and unconfirmed execution has some analysts fearing that the purge could create dangerous instability within Kim Jong Un’s already unpredictable government.