According to South Korea's spy agency, the boy-king of North Korea has apparently fired his uncle from a top post and publicly executed a couple of the uncle's associates. Seoul's National Intelligence Agency said that they believe Jang Song Thaek, Kim's uncle and brother-in-law of the former Supreme Leader, was relieved of his post as the vice chairman of the country's National Defense Commission, the Voice of Asia reports. "The lawmakers say the NIS believes two of Jang's closest aides - Lee Yong-ha and Jang Soo-keel - were executed in mid-November and that he has not been seen since," VOA adds.
That's not really good news for Jang ("disappearing" in North Korea is not advisable), but it could also have potential ripple effects on larger geopolitical picture. Some experts believe this could be a signal of a huge political upheaval in Pyongyang. Jang is married to the deceased Kim Jong Il's sister, and was seen as a powerful influence on Kim Jong Un after his father died in 2011, the AP reports. But Jang's relationship with both big Kim and Lil' Kim hasn't always been so smooth. "Jang was previously purged in a power struggle in 2004 under Kim Jong Il's rule but was reinstated two years later," the VOA reports.
Jang's job was being one of the top persons in charge of the country's National Defense Commission, otherwise known as the powerful North Korean organization that, at the beginning of this year, was really intent on trolling the world with threats of nuclear war and bomb tests. Later, in June, the National Defense Commission backed down from the nuclear war rhetoric and proposed talks with the U.S.
There is a glimmer of good news for Jang however. It's possible that South Korean spies are wrong. Because North Korea is as mysterious as it is, figuring out what's really going on is very difficult. "South Korean intelligence officials have erred previously in predicting changes in the secretive North, and senior North Korean officials occasionally disappear from state media reports and then reappear," the AP reports.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.