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Kim uncle’s heinous crime: listless claps

Dec. 14: North Korea has issued an astonishingly detailed announcement listing the alleged transgressions of Jang Song-thaek, the executed uncle of “supreme leader” Kim Jong-un.

Jang’s purported crimes included the dissemination of pornography, failing to applaud enthusiastically, obstructing Kim’s path to power, hoarding and selling state-owned coal and precious metals — and causing a monument honouring Kim to be put up “in a shaded corner”.

Jang was probably tortured before he was killed, pictures of his final moments suggest.

Even by North Korea’s unrestrained standards, the savagery of the language used against Jang is unprecedented. They underline the unpredictability of young Kim and expose a life-and-death struggle in a leadership that habitually presents itself as indivisibly united.

“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,” said the report by state-run news agency KCNA.

Photographs showed a hunched and handcuffed Jang being frogmarched into the tribunal. Enlargement of the images revealed a rawness on his hands, prompting speculation in South Korea that he had been tortured.

KCNA quoted Jang as “confessing” to the tribunal: “I attempted to trigger off discontent among service personnel and people…. Comrade supreme leader is the target of the coup.”

According to the tribunal, Jang stood in the way of Kim’s succession and, at a meeting of the Workers’ Party, “behaved so arrogantly and insolently as unwillingly standing up from his seat and half-heartedly clapping”.

He is also alleged to have banned an army unit from erecting a granite monument to young Kim in front of their headquarters. “He was so reckless as to instruct the unit to erect it in a shaded corner,” according to KCNA.

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