It appears that a bloody purge is underway in North Korea to rid state organs of the cronies of eminence grise Jang Song-taek, who has been reportedly stripped of all his posts.
Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae told lawmakers here rumors that Jang's closest confidants Ri Yong-ha and Jang Su-gil were publicly executed in late November for damaging the Workers Party have been confirmed.
Jang's brother-in-law, North Korean Ambassador to Cuba, Jon Yong-jin, is apparently set to return to Pyongyang via Beijing on Thursday. A diplomatic source in Beijing said Jon appears to have been recalled. Jang's nephew and Ambassador to Malaysia Jang Yong-chol has already been recalled.
The Unification Minister said no harm appears to have come to Jang himself, though his whereabouts are a mystery.
In a closed-door meeting later in the day, Ryoo said it should be remembered that Jang survived three purges in the past, only to return to a new position of power.
Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is apparently away from Pyongyang, judging by a sighting of his personal train, a government official here said Wednesday.