Fletcher in the News

Uncle of North Korean Leader Stripped of Power: Professor Lee Comments in NYT

Sung-Yoon Lee is the Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor in Korean Studies and Assistant Professor at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University

Jang Song-thaek, an uncle of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and a man widely considered to be No. 2 in the Pyongyang government, has been dismissed from all posts of influence, the National Intelligence Service of South Korea told Parliament on Tuesday.

Mr. Jang’s downfall follows the executions of his two deputies last month at the administrative department of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea on charges of “corruption and anti-party activities,” according to lawmakers who were briefed by intelligence officials in a hurriedly scheduled meeting at the National Assembly. The South Korean intelligence agency did not reveal how it learned of the executions, the lawmakers said…

…“In a totalitarian system, the life of the No. 2 man or regent is oftentimes short and precarious,” said Lee Sung-yoon, a North Korea specialist at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Mr. Jang may survive this reported purge and come back, as he did from his two previous purges, because it would be hard for Kim Jong-un to kill an uncle, Mr. Lee said. “But the latest purge or execution of Jang’s followers sends a powerful message to all and particularly to those harboring illusions of power,” he said.

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