Jang Song Taek
On 13 December 2013, North Korea announced the overnight execution of Jang Song Thaek. According to a KCNA news report, "a special military tribunal of the DPRK Ministry of State Security was held on December 12 against traitor for all ages Jang Song Thaek." The end result being that "all the crimes committed by the accused were proved in the course of hearing and were admitted by him."
The news report further stated that "All facts go to clearly prove that Jang is a thrice-cursed traitor without an equal in the world as he had desperately worked for years to destabilize and bring down the DPRK and grab the supreme power of the party and state by employing all the most cunning and sinister means and methods, pursuant to the 'strategic patience' policy and 'waiting strategy' of the U.S. and the south Korean puppet group of traitors"
The report concluded:
"The special military tribunal of the Ministry of State Security of the DPRK confirmed that the state subversion attempted by the accused Jang with an aim to overthrow the people's power of the DPRK by ideologically aligning himself with enemies is a crime punishable by Article 60 of the DPRK Criminal Code, vehemently condemned him as a wicked political careerist, trickster and traitor for all ages in the name of the revolution and the people and ruled that he would be sentenced to death according to it.
The decision was immediately executed."
The execution comes shortly after the 08 December 2013 enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, which formally announced his ouster from the regime's inner circles.
Jang Song Taek was North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's 67-year-old [as of 2013] uncle, and the power behind the throne. Jang Sung Taek's wife, Kim Kyung Hee, was Kim Jong-Il's younger sister. Born in 1946, Jang was four years younger than Kim Jong Il. Kim Kyung Hee was said by some to have been an alcoholic for a long time, resulting in a sustained separation from Jang. Their marriage was achieved despite the objections of Kim Il Sung, since there was a problem in the background of Jang's father. Their daughter Geum Song, who studied in Paris, committed suicide in 2006. Jang Song Taek excels in accordion playing, it was said.
Jang Song Taek, Director of the Ministry of Administration, rose to the center of North Korean power in just a few years. In 1992, he was elected Central Committee's Central Delegate, and rose to be 1st Vice-Director of the Guidance Division in 1994.
He was overthrown in 2004 for debauched acts, such as creating factions within the party in 2004 and scheming to seize power. Reports of Chang's downfall first surfaced in March 2004. Jang Song-thaek was reportedly purged after he tried to build up a military faction to put his own son in power. There are reports that Chang and Kim Kyung-hee parted ways following Chang's purge. Chang was also known to have close ties with Kim Jong-il's disgraced first son Kim Jong Nam, and his downfall was widely viewed as part of a power struggle for succession.
He had controlled personnel matters in the ruling Workers' Party, and his two brothers held top jobs in the military. Chang was a potential stumbling block if Kim started transferring power to one of his three sons. Chang's downfall may have begun in 2003, after Hwang Jang Yop, the highest-ranking North Korean to defect [the former secretary of the North Korean Workers Party], publicly noted that Chang might be installed in Kim's place in the event of a coup d'état (Chang was also a relative of Mr. Hwang).
Dozens of Jang's aides and relatives were purged or demoted. Jang's eldest brother, Jang Song-u, was a KPA vice marshal and commanded the Third Army Corps which surrounds the city of Pyongyang. The second-oldest brother, Jang Song-yop, was the vice director of the Kim Il-sung Higher Party School. A younger brother, Jang Song-Gil, was a lieutenant general and tank commander, while the youngest, Jang Song-ho, was a political vice president of the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School. The exact fate of these other family members was unclear as of early 2005. As many as 80 top officials and their family members were reportedly sent to North Korea's Gulag in the largest purge in a decade. By 2006 he was reappointed as the First-Vice Director of the Guidance Department, the man who actually governs the Party and the Army. After when Jang Sung Taek's position was strengthened, North Korea's domestic policies became even more conservative. When the symptoms of Kim Jong Il's illness were discovered in September 2008, he was reported to have moved to secure command of the Guidance Division of the Party.
In April 2009 North Korean leader Kim Jong Il appointed his brother-in-law Jang Song Taek to an influential defense position. Kim Jong Il appointed Jang to North Korea's National Defense Commission. In North Korea's militarized and authoritarian society, Mr. Kim derives much of his status as the government's unquestioned leader from his status as chairman of that commission. Previously Jang's positions had been within the Korean Workers' Party, not the government. That fueled discussion about what might happen to North Korea's government if the aging leader's health should fail. Jang Song Taek was unlikely to take Kim Jong Il's place directly - but does have a role to play. Jang's likely role was to support a succession process, rather than to lead the country himself. The suggestion was that Kim Jong Il would temporarily hand over power to Jang, rather than to his own sons, who are young and inexperienced.
By 2009 the so-called "rival" to Jang Song Taek was the 77 year old Lee Jeh Gang [Ri Je Gang], first vice department director of the Central Committee, whose constituency was the Korean People's Army, having supervision over the Central Military Committee, the Ministry of People's Armed Forces and the KWP General Political Bureau of the KPA. Western speculation was that that Jang Song Taek and Kim Kyung Hee are trying to establish Kim Jong Il's eldest son, the manifestly disqualified Kim Jong Nam, as the successor while Lee Jeh Gang, the First Vice Director of the Guidance Department, supported Kim Jong Cheol, Kim Jong Il's second eldest son, who was said to suffer from a variety of physical infirmities. The Japanese Mainichi Newspaper reported in December 2008 that "Jang Sung Taek, who supports the eldest Jong Nam as Kim Jong Il's successor, created tension with Lee Jeh Gang when he requested the succession of Kim Jong Nam at the end of 2007."
But other informed observers questioned the very idea of conflict surrounding the succession plan among those who are closely involved. Since Kim Jong Il's evaluation was the decisive one regarding the succession issue, subordinates backing different persons was a scenario which cannot exist.
By 2010 Jo Myung-rok was said to be 82 years old and actually sick, but still officially maintaining his position. In June 2010 Jang was appointed to the position of Vice-Chairman of the National Defense Commission, the second most powerful position in the country. He replaced Jo Myung Bok, until then the North Korea's top military commander.
On 03 December 2013, South Korea's National Intelligence Agency briefed South Korean lawmakers about its assessment that Jang Song Thaek had been removed as vice chairman of North Korea's National Defense Commission. It also believed that some of Jang Song Thaek's associates had been executed.
An 08 December 2013 enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea was held to discuss "the issue related to the anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts committed by Jang Song Thaek. The meeting, to begin with, fully laid bare the anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts of Jang Song Thaek and their harmfulness and reactionary nature."
A number of charges were leveled against Jang Song Thaek, including, but not limited to
- committing "anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts as gnawing at the unity and cohesion of the party and disturbing the work for establishing the party unitary leadership system and perpetrated such ant-state, unpopular crimes as doing enormous harm to the efforts to build a thriving nation and improve the standard of people's living";
- "shunning and obstructing in every way the work for holding President Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in high esteem for all ages, behaving against the elementary sense of moral obligation and conscience as a human being",
- weakening "the party's guidance over judicial, prosecution and people's security bodies, bringing very harmful consequences to the work for protecting the social system, policies and people",
- "throwing the state financial management system into confusion and committing such act of treachery as selling off precious resources of the country at cheap prices".
- Jang Song Thaek also was accused of having had "improper relations with several women and [being] wined and dined at back parlors of deluxe restaurants".
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