Analyst: Kim Jong Un may not be responsible for Jang Sung Taek

A North Korean document states Jang was seeking the position of prime minister prior to his execution.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Feb. 26, 2016 at 1:41 PM
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SEOUL, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- The motives behind the highly publicized execution of Jang Sung Taek, the uncle of current North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, have been open to question, but a South Korean analyst said Jang's ambition to restore an old power structure could have played a role in his death sentence.

Ko Soo-suk, a senior researcher at the Unification Research Institute of JoongAng Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, wrote Jang was seeking the role of prime minister in the North Korean Cabinet.

According to Ko, a North Korean document on the judgment of death penalty for Jang, included a passage on Jang's crimes against the state.

"Jang had a foolish dream, and he took the first step to seize the position and status of prime minister," the document read.

Unlike China, where the prime minister is an influential player in economic policy, North Korea's prime minister plays a largely ceremonial role and has low impact in governance, Ko wrote.

Economic planning is the task of a department in the Korean Workers' Party, and the prime minister follows instructions from the Party.

Jang, who was a prominent figure under former leader Kim Jong Il, often traveled to China and even to South Korea to learn about economic policy and planning. Jang has often been associated with economic reform, but in December 2013 was executed on charges of treason and of being a "counterrevolutionary."

The prime minister position Jang could have had in mind was the more influential version in place under North Korea founder Kim Il Sung. Prime ministers under the late Kim were in charge of economic policy and Jang would have been well-suited for a bigger role involving growth and development.

Ko also stated in his analysis that members of North Korea's core leadership, rather than Kim Jong Un, could have thwarted Jang's ambition. Core leadership officials foiled attempts by Jang to procure a meeting with Kim, who was away on a field guidance trip at a critical time. While Kim was away, Ko wrote, core members could have been able to enforce an order of execution for Jang.

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