2013: Jang Sung-taek, North Korean purgee

Add comment December 12th, 2015 Headsman

On this date in 2013, according to North Korea’s state news organ, Kim Jong-un‘s uncle was sentenced to death and directly executed.

Days earlier, Jang Sung-taek (alternatively, Song-taek, Sung-thaek, and various similar transliterations) had suffered an extremely visible fall when, in a Saddam-like twist, he was arrested on live television in the midst of a politburo meeting.


Image from KCTV (North Korea) shows Jang Sung-taek being arrested during a politburo meeting in Pyongyang.

Even so, the severity of his treatment was a surprise given his family tie to the supreme leader (he was the husband of Kim Jong-il‘s sister).

Long one of the secretive state’s top officials — his prestige recovered from two previous falls from favor in the late 1980s and early 2000s — Jang was among the officials involved in the transfer of power from the late Kim Jong-il to the young dictator Kim Jong-un. It is uncertain exactly what brought about his destruction; speculation ran to differing philosophies of economic development and/or raw power rivalry, little clarified by a government statement denouncing him as “despicable human scum … worse than a dog” for his “thrice-cursed acts of treachery” and “decadent capitalist lifestyle.”

Jang was executed by shooting: machine gun fire in the “normal” version, or the more spectacular novelty of anti-aircraft fire by some accounts. (Reports to the effect that Jang was executed by being fed to a pack of wild dogs can still be found, but this story was fabricated by a satirist and its subsequent circulation cautions against a propensity to give credence to every lurid rumor about North Korea.)

Jang’s fall reportedly also brought about the execution of “all relatives” and hundreds of officials who were considered members of his faction.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Korea,Mass Executions,North Korea,Politicians,Power,Ripped from the Headlines,Shot,Treason

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2011: Ryu Kyong, Kim Jong-un rival

1 comment January 4th, 2012 Headsman

Sometime in early January — nobody seems to know quite when — North Korean intelligence official Ryu Kyong disappeared, apparently executed.

The number two man, and perhaps de facto number one man, in the State Security Department and a longtime Kim Jon-il ally, Ryu was reportedly “summoned by Kim Jong-il in early January and on his way to Kim’s residence, was arrested by members of the General Guard Bureau. He was interrogated and secretly executed.”

Speculative reason: the Leader viewed Ryu as having grown too powerful, and therefore as a potential rival to a clean succession for Kim Jong-un.

“With Ryu, many others were purged at the State Security Department,” a Seoul analyst said. “We can say that as he gained control of the department, Kim Jong-un needed to give jobs to people loyal to him.”

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Korea,North Korea,Notable Participants,Politicians,Power,Ripped from the Headlines,Shot,Torture,Uncertain Dates

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