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N. Korean leader's uncle not personally affected by dismissal: policymaker

All Headlines 17:31 December 04, 2013

SEOUL, Dec. 4 (Yonhap) -- The uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has not been personally affected by the execution of his confidants and his likely dismissal from power, Seoul's unification minister said Wednesday.

The comments by Ryoo Kihl-jae at the National Assembly were made a day after Seoul's spy agency reported that Jang Song-thaek was sacked, and a purge of his followers could be underway.

Jang was vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission and a member of the Politburo of the central committee for the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK).

"There seems to be no personal change to Jang and his wife Kim Kyong-hui," the policymaker said.

Kim Kyong-hui is the aunt of incumbent leader Kim Jong-un, with Jang's rise to power over the years attributed to his in-laws.

Ryoo told lawmakers belonging to the foreign affairs and unification committee that it is very probable that Jang has been stripped of his official posts.

In regard to the cause of his fall from grace, the unification minister said it may be a combination of a power struggle and Kim's decision to oust his uncle.

On what effect the likely expulsion will have on the leader's power over the country, the former North Korean scholar expects Kim's grip to solidify.

"Outwardly at least, Kim's power seems firm," he said.

The official, meanwhile, declined to give the exact date of the execution of Jang's confidants. Both seem to have been accused of corruption and anti-WPK actions.

He added that even before the supposed purge, Jang's public appearances have been scaled back from 106 in 2012 to 52 this year.


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