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North Korean leader sacks powerful uncle

South Korean media is reporting the dismissal of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle, once widely regarded as the second in command of the Pyongyang government.

By JC Finley
North Korean leader sacks powerful uncle
Kim Jong-un, pictured here on China state television saluting his father during a state funeral in December 2011, has reportedly fired his uncle, Jang Song-thaek sometime in the last month or two. (UPI/Stephen Shaver) | License Photo

Dec. 3 (UPI) -- South Korean media reports that North Korea leader Kim Jong Un has dismissed his uncle, Jang Song Thaek from his position as vice-chairman of North Korea's military and all other positions of influence.

News of the development is based, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency, on a National Intelligence Service assessment shared with South Korean lawmakers. BBC noted difficulty verifying NIIS information.

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Jang had been considered No. 2 in the Pyongyang government and was a mentor to his nephew. His dismissal follows the execution of his two deputies for "corruption and anti-party activities."

A North Korea scholar shared his insight into the power shake-up with CBSNews.com. "The signs have been there for some time that Jang was fading. He has been appearing less and less frequently in Kim Jong Un's presence, or indeed, at all. If that change in his previously high-profile visibility was not caused by health problems, it suggested a political problem."

[BBC] [New York Times] [CBS]

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