N.Korea Justifies Jang Song-taek's Ouster

Ousted North Korean eminence grise Jang Song-taek "committed criminal acts baffling the imagination and caused tremendous harm to our party and revolution," the official KCNA news agency reported Monday.

KCNA said a Workers Party Politburo meeting on Monday decided to dismiss Jang and his top lieutenants.

In an unprecedented move, the state TV showed Jang being dragged out of the meeting venue by three uniformed guards after his dismissal was made official.

The Workers Party was quoted as saying that Jang’s ouster dealt a "decisive blow" to the threat of a "faction within the party" being formed.

Jang Song-taek is being hauled out of a Workers Party Politburo meeting in Pyongyang on Sunday in this photo released by the North Korean Central TV on Monday. Jang Song-taek is being hauled out of a Workers Party Politburo meeting in Pyongyang on Sunday in this photo released by the North Korean Central TV on Monday.

◆ 20 Crimes

Jang was pronounced guilty of 20 offenses from corruption, womanizing, gambling and drug-taking to "defiance of the supreme commander of the [North] Korean People's Army."

The party said Jang "pretended to uphold the party and leader but was engrossed in such factional acts as dreaming different dreams and involving himself in double-dealing behind the scenes."

It is likely that Jang was framed for the offenses to justify his ouster, but the overall gist is that he challenged Kim's supreme leadership. The latest development is being seen as a precursor to a bloody purge of all officials who were close to Jang.

Experts said the unprecedented coverage of Jang's removal by state media is clearly intended to create a climate of fear to consolidate Kim's power while sending a warning to Jang's coterie.

◆ Wider Purge

Jang's growing influence behind the throne was evidently perceived as a threat. After coming to power as de-facto regent following the death of former leader Kim Jong-il, Jang seized lucrative businesses run by the military that earned hard currency and also took control of key posts and money-making operations of the Workers Party.

Jang's lieutenants may also have criticized Kim's leadership or opposed his policies. KCNA said Jang was warned several times and steps were taken to rein in his ambitions, but he did not acquiesce.

It is improbable that Jang openly rebelled against the supreme leader, said Cho Young-ki at Korea University. "But he may have called for economic development centered on the Hwanggumpyong and Rajin-Sonbong" free economic zones on the border with China "while Kim Jong-un wanted to develop all 14 special zones."

Other analysts believe that elderly military generals who were ousted by Jang plotted against him and convinced the North Korean leader to remove him from his posts.

Cho Han-bum at the Korea Institute for National Unification said it appears that "military officers seeking to push Jang Song-taek out persuaded Kim to make false accusations."

Pundits said the crimes Jang is accused of practically rule out any chance of a comeback, while his family and cronies are likely to become targets of a purge.

Jang's rise to power started with his marriage to former Kim Jong-il's sister Kim Kyong-hui in 1972. Although he has been purged several times before, he managed to stage a comeback each time and held various positions of power for over four decades. As a result, he is widely believed to have many followers.

Kim Yong-hyun at Dongguk University said the North Korean leader "will have carry out a widespread purge and act quickly to consolidate his power."

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 10, 2013 09:41 KST

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