SEOUL, (Reuters) – North Korea announced yesterday the dismissal of Jang Song Thaek, the once powerful uncle of leader Kim Jong Un, for what it described as a string of criminal acts including mismanaging the economy, corruption, womanising and drug-taking.
The sacking of the man regarded as the second most powerful in the secretive state comes after reports in South Korean media that one of his aides had sought asylum in South Korea.
The unidentified aide, who managed funds for Jang, was being protected by South Korean officials in a secret location in China, cable news network YTN and the Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper said on Friday, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Jang was removed from all his posts and expelled from the ruling Workers’ Party during a meeting of its politburo on Sunday, the North’s official KCNA news agency said. Kim Jong Un attended and “guided” the meeting, it said.
“Jang and his followers committed criminal acts baffling imagination and they did tremendous harm to our party and revolution,” KCNA said, without saying if Jang had been detained or charged with any crime.
The report also did not refer to Jang’s aide, whose defection, if confirmed, would be the most serious for North Korea in 15 years.