June 8, 2010 |
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law was elevated Monday to the second-most powerful position in the leadership, a reshuffling of personnel intended to consolidate the ruling family's grip on the country. The promotion of Jang Song Taek, 64, long believed to be one of the most powerful men behind the scenes in North Korea, was announced after an unexpected meeting of the Supreme People's Assembly, presided over by the ailing Kim. A longtime family confidant, 81-year-old Choe Yong Rim, was named prime minister, a largely ceremonial post.
December 13, 2013 |
BEIJING - It is North Korea's version of a youth revolution, and it's making a lot of people nervous. At 30, Kim Jong Un may well be the world's youngest head of state. His brother, Kim Jong Chul, two years older, is best known as an avid Eric Clapton fan but is also said to keep an eye on the leader's security. And the youngest of the Swiss-educated siblings, 26-year-old sister Kim Yo Jong, is seen frequently as an aide-de-camp to the leader. With Thursday's execution of their uncle, Jang Song Taek, and the purge of his cronies, this impatient new generation of the Kim family dynasty appears to be kicking out the adults.
February 15, 2014 |
YANJI, China - She was a North Korean success story. For more than two decades, the woman, now 50, dabbled in various businesses at the border between China and North Korea. She sold rice. She traded foreign currency. She opened a massage parlor in China. She traveled between the two countries with relative ease and was making sufficient money to live comfortably, so much so that she rebuffed invitations to join her sister, who had defected to South Korea. But the woman, who didn't want her name used out of fear for her safety, has changed her thinking about the future since the December execution of Jang Song Taek, the uncle by marriage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Jang, 67, was long viewed as a champion of free enterprise within the nominally communist state, and his purge has rattled many North Koreans.
January 8, 2014 |
BEIJING - Dennis Rodman helped Kim Jong Un mark his 31st birthday Wednesday with sport and song, serenading the North Korean dictator with a warbly rendition of “Happy Birthday” in a Pyongyang gymnasium and then leading fellow ex-NBA players in a game against a local squad. Spectators were not allowed to bring cameras into the modestly appointed arena, but video posted later online showed Rodman in sunglasses leading the crowd - many of them in sport coats and dress shirts - in a singing tribute to “The Marshal.” Then the Americans, in blue and white uniforms, faced off against the North Koreans, or the “Torch Team,” in red. Simon Cockerell, a tour guide with Beijing-based Koryo tours who is traveling with Rodman's group, described the event as a “bizarre and unusual occasion.” In a video dispatch from Pyongyang posted to Koryo's Facebook page, he said the teams played two 10-minute halves, with the North Koreans prevailing at the final buzzer (by a score of 47-39, according to Associated Press)
December 3, 2013 |
SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle, the Pyongyang regime's de facto No. 2 official, has probably been ousted from his posts, South Korea's state spy agency said Tuesday. In a report released at a meeting with lawmakers, the National Intelligence Service said that two close confidants of 67-year-old Jang Song Taek appear to have been publicly executed in late November for “anti-party activities. " The intelligence agency concluded that the executions of Ri Yong-Ha and Jang Soo - Kil couldn't have taken place unless Jang, holding the position of vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, had lost his job. Jang is the husband of the late leader Kim Jong Il's only full sibling, Kim Kyung Hui, and held a position in the secretive family hierarchy tantamount to regent after Kim Jong Il died in December 2011, leaving the not-yet-30-year-old Kim Jong Un in charge.
December 19, 2013 |
SEOUL -- A high-ranking North Korean military officer said to be a close confidant of the recently executed uncle of ruler Kim Jong Un is in South Korean custody in China, South Korean media reported Thursday. Several South Korean media outlets, citing anonymous intelligence officials, said the unnamed military officer was being questioned in a South Korean diplomatic office in Beijing. According to 24-hour news channel YTN, the former aide to Jang Song Taek anticipated the purge of his boss and sought to defect at the end of September.