N Korea leader’s aunt unscathed after husband’s execution

SEOUL: The aunt of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un appears unscathed after the shock execution of her powerful husband Jang Song-Thaek, despite strong speculation that those close to Jang could be purged.

Kim Kyong-Hui, sister of Kim’s father and the country’s late leader Kim Jong-Il, was named a member of the state funeral committee for a senior ruling party official who died on Friday, the official KCNA news agency said late yesterday.

Her name was listed alongside a large group of top party and military officials including defence chief Jang Jong-Nam and Choe Ryong-Hae, a close confidant of the leader and director of the military’s political bureau.

News of Kim Kyong-Hui attending an official function indicates that she remains in favour with her nephew, who has been consolidating his grip on power since his father’s death two years ago.

Jang Song-Thaek, once seen as the political regent of the young Kim, was executed on Thursday for corruption and plotting to overthrow the state, among other charges.

His execution — just days after he was ousted from all his party and military positions — marks the biggest political upheaval since the young Kim inherited power after the death of his father in December 2011.

The latest purge was staged in an extraordinarily public and dramatic manner, with Pyongyang releasing images of Jang being dragged out of a party meeting on Sunday.

Another image showed a handcuffed Jang, with bruises on his face and hands, being held by uniformed guards at the military tribunal that sentenced him to death.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye has criticised what she called a “reign of terror” in the North to bolster Kim’s leadership. Seoul’s defence chief vowed to step up troop readiness against potential provocations.

Pyongyang on today angrily slammed Seoul’s reaction, calling it an “intolerable provocation”

“The criticisms that took issue with our resolute actions are hideous…acts of extreme hysteria aimed at further fanning inter-Korea confrontation,” the North’s official website Uriminzokkiri said.

“We will slap merciless hammers on the attempts by enemy forces to…challenge our dignified leadership, just like we mercilessly punished the harmful elements among us.”

Park will tomorrow hold a meeting with top defence and national security officials to discuss the situation in the North, her spokesman said.

The meeting will involve her national security and foreign policy advisers as well as ministers handling foreign affairs, defence, intelligence and North Korean affairs.



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