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Reports: Kim’s uncle stripped of power

Seoul, Dec. 3: Jang Song-thaek, an uncle of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and a man widely considered to be No. 2 in the Pyongyang government, has been dismissed from all posts of influence, the National Intelligence Service of South Korea told the country’s parliament today.

Jang’s downfall followed the executions of his two deputies at the administrative department of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea on charges of “corruption and anti-party activities” last month, according to lawmakers who were briefed by intelligence officials in a hurriedly scheduled meeting at the National Assembly.

The intelligence agency did not reveal how they learned of the executions.

North Korean news media have not reported on Jang’s fate or on the executions. In the past, North Korean officials reported by South Korean media to have been purged have occasionally resurfaced. But Jang’s unusually long absence from the news in North Korea and the South Korean intelligence service’s special briefing to lawmakers were seen as clear signs that he is in trouble.

Jang, 67, has been a mentor to his nephew as well as a fixture in the North Korean power elite since the days of Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il, exercising his widespread influence from the party’s administrative department, which he led.

Jang and his wife emerged as key brokers of power in the reclusive North Korean regime after Kim Jong-il suffered a stroke in 2008. They played leading roles in engineering the fast-track grooming of Kim Jong-un as designated heir, analysts said.

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