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article imageExecution of Chang Song-thaek, uncle of Kim, stuns world leaders

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By Eileen Kersey     Dec 13, 2013 in World
Pyongyang - News that ousted Chang or Jang Song-thaek, a powerful uncle of Kim Jong-un has been executed, has sent ripples of shock-waves to other countries. The uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was ousted from office and not seen in public since November.
Late Thursday the North Korea's official news agency reported that Chang had been tried, found guilty and immediately executed.
Chang, or as he is also known Jang Song-thaek, was executed by machine-gun fire. News emerged that he was "purged" from power on charges of "acts of treachery."
Now the reclusive and often secretive North Korean regime has released images of Chang's public humiliation as he was removed from an official gathering. His swift trial took place Thursday.
State news agency KCNA said Mr Chang had admitted at a military trial on Thursday to attempting to overthrow the state, and was executed immediately adding he was "despicable human scum... worse than a dog." His trial, some would say before a "kangaroo" court Thursday, quickly led to his execution.
How the mighty fall. If such a powerful figure can so quickly and easily be ousted it does not bode well for others in North Korea.
The story began to unfold a week ago. The whereabouts of the powerful uncle of the country's leader, Kim Jong-un, were unknown following speculation that he had been "removed."
Chang Song-thaek, Kim Jong-un's uncle, was a powerful force in North Korea. He held the role of vice-chairman of the National Defence Commission and was a department head of the ruling Workers’ Party. Viewed by some as a mentor to young Kim, and often seen at his side, Chang fell off the radar last week amidst reports that he had been "purged by a resurgent military faction in Pyongyang."
At the same time Chang vanished two of his aides were publicly executed. The number of public executions in North Korea have increased this year and in early November there were 80 public executions in one single day. Those executed were accused of crimes allegedly including watching South Korean films and distributing pornography.
The Telegraph reported Chang's two aides were: "Found guilty of corruption and activities that ran counter to the policies of the Workers' Party of Korea, according to a report by South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS).
South Korea and North Korea are hardly firm allies and so reports from either country about the other must always be treat with some skepticism. However, in this case Chang's disappearance was public knowledge.
A South Korean Minister claimed that Kim Jong-un's uncle was safe even though he had been removed from his post. His removal was the most significant in the two years since Kim Jong-un came to power. He was also a powerful figure during Kim Jong-il's time as leader of North Korea.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald "Jang [Chang], who married Kim Jong-un's aunt Kim Kyong Hui in 1972, was named to the post in June 2010 by Kim Jong-il."
Many political pundits believe the "purge" is all about Kim asserting his power. "This boy king ... very much wants to show he's in charge," says fmr. Ambassador to South Korea Christopher Hill.
Chang's removal is almost complete Friday as photos and footage which may contain his image are edited to remove him.
Chang was a bridge builder between China and South Korea. As such his removal has been condemned by western countries. Online though some have also condemned the US for voicing criticism of the execution on the same day that a US drone killed in the Yemen.
According to NBC, "Missiles fired by a U.S. drone slammed into a convoy of vehicles traveling to a wedding party in central Yemen on Thursday, killing at least 13 people, Yemeni security officials said.
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