Hundreds Related to Kim's Uncle Arrested

South Korean official doubts 'power struggle' led to execution

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 23, 2013 11:22 AM CST

(Newser) – Authorities have rounded up hundreds of relatives of Kim Jong Un's recently executed uncle and ferried them to prison camps, according to a report out of Seoul. The night after Jang Song Thaek was executed, "armed men from the Ministry of State Security arrived unannounced in the Pyongchon area of Pyongyang where a lot of his relatives lived," an insider tells the Daily NK, which is run by defectors, Fox News notes. "It was not just his close relatives who were taken away, but distant members of his family, too." Observers say family members could be executed or spend life in prison (though things appear OK for Kim's aunt). In other news from Pyongyang:

  • The Telegraph lists some of the 24 charges against Jang, which apparently included "gnawing at the unity and cohesion of the party" and "dreaming different dreams." He was also blamed for "improper relations with several women" and "squandering foreign currency at casinos."
  • But Pyongyang's claims that Jang was executed over his plans to seize power are likely inaccurate, says South Korea's head of intelligence: The real problem was Jang and his associates' push to take control of major business deals—for instance, coal sales to China, the official said in a closed meeting, as noted by the New York Times. After Jang's rivals complained, Kim ordered Jang's associates to drop certain deals, but they refused; Kim believed his authority was being questioned.
  • In less consequential North Korea news, Dennis Rodman has exited the country, having wrapped up his third "fun" visit. He didn't get to see his pal Kim this time around (he was training basketball players), but tells CNN, "I'm not worried about it. I'll see him again. I will be coming back in another week."

FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2012 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and his uncle Jang Song Thaek, second from left, attend a ceremony to reopen the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang....   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
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