The government is preparing to deal with the potential impact of the sacking of North Korea's eminence grise Jang Song-taek for cross-border relations.
An intelligence official here said there are "no immediate signs of major changes in the North" and urged calm, but added that a "huge uncertainty" hangs over in the North Korean regime.
Intelligence officials had been monitoring Jang and his coterie since September. Not only had Jang's public appearances with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un decreased significantly this year, but there were also rumors of a "bloody purge" targeting Jang’s circle.
The government has concluded that Jang has indeed been stripped of all of his power after the public executions of two of his close confidantes late last month. Officials here believe Jang's sacking could strengthen the clout of the hardline North Korean military and are trying to gauge the ramifications.
The National Intelligence Service has told the military of the latest changes in the North, and the military is on heightened alert.
But some other officials believe it is still too early to conclude that Jang has been completely ousted. Supporting this view is the fact that Jang disappeared from public view several times in the past, only to return to an even more powerful position.
"Jang is no ordinary character," a government official said. "He has resurfaced every time there was call for reform in the North."