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2. Jang Song-thaek’s Execution & Kim Jong-un’s Monolithic Leadership


2. Jang Song-thaek’s Execution & Kim Jong-un’s Monolithic Leadership
North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency announced on December 13 that Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was executed immediately after a special military trial. Jang was widely considered North Korea’s second in command.

The report came after the National Intelligence Service said on December 3 that Jang was stripped of all posts and titles and two of his confidants had been executed.

On December 9, in an unprecedented move, the North aired images of security officials grasping and leading Jang out of a meeting of the Workers’ Party of Korea. The party banished Jang, accusing him of perpetrating anti-party, anti-revolutionary acts that impeded building up the party's monolithic leadership.

With Jang’s death, observers projected the young North Korean leader’s politics of terror will spread throughout the North’s society for the time being as he seeks to solidify his monolithic leadership.

Meanwhile, shortly after Jang’s execution, the North held a memorial ceremony marking the second anniversary of former leader Kim Jong-il’s death.

Kim Kyung-hui, the aunt of Kim Jong-un and wife of Jang Song-thaek, was not seen at the ceremony. Kim’s wife, Ri Sol-ju, was also not at the ceremony, but she later accompanied Kim to pay respects to the former leaders of North Korea at the Geumsusan Memorial Palace. It was the first time North Korean state media reported a public appearance by Ri in two months.

At the memorial ceremony, director of the Korean People’s Army General Political Bureau, Choe Ryong-hae, sat beside the North Korean leader, demonstrating his heightened status. In a speech at the ceremony, Choe pledged to be loyal only to Kim, who he referred to as the supreme commander.

Experts say Kim’s monolithic leadership is expected to grow stronger, but it is unclear whether it will succeed as Jang’s death has shown the insecurity of the young leader’s government.

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