Kim Jong Un 'Very Drunk' Ordering Executions

North Korea purge 'wasn't about coup'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2013 6:12 PM CST

(Newser) – North Korea's leader was "very drunk" when he recently ordered two aides close to his uncle to be executed, reports the Independent via the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun. Kim Jong Un was apparently upset when the two men questioned his demand that a business be handed over to the military. Ri Ryong Ha, first deputy director of a department in the ruling Workers' Party, and Jang Su Gil, a deputy director in the same department, failed to approve Kim's order quickly, the Telegraph reports, and wanted to check with Kim's uncle, Jang Song Thaek.

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South Korea heard about the executions by wiretapping phone calls made by friends of the two aides, and considered Jang's execution "inevitable" from then on. This all contradicts Pyongyang's official story that Jang was executed for plotting a coup, the New York Times notes. In a closed-door meeting today, South Korea's director of intelligence said Jang and his allies had started a struggle among North Korea's elite by taking over profitable business deals—like the sale of coal to China. Friction then built up between government agencies over Jang's perceived abuse of power. At least eight people connected to Jang were executed and hundreds of his relatives were taken to prison camps in the purge. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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