While the president of North Korea Kim Jong-un watched, the dogs were turned loose. As his uncle stood, naked and shivering, at the gate of the wire cage, five of his trusted advisors joined him, ready to die. They had stayed with him during his rise – and fall – as North Korea’s second most powerful leader. Jang Song Thaek had fallen out of favor with the new president and now had to pay the ultimate price. One hundred and twenty dogs, which had not been fed for three days, were released into the pit. Ankles and wrists bound, the six men were pushed into the pit and into eternity.
The execution, known in Korea as “quan jue” was first reported in the Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po, who dated the execution as occurring on December 12, 2013.
The details of the execution, picked up on January 3 by Singaporean Straits Times and still not confirmed, go on to describe how the six men died. With hundreds of North Korean officials looking on, the Korean president’s uncle was pushed into the cage, where the dogs attacked and devoured him along with his former comrades. The execution is reported to have lasted an hour.
Anonymous sources, who were not authorized to speak on the issue, say the breed involved in the execution of Jong-un’s uncle were Jindos. The Jindo originated from Jindo Island several centuries ago and were bred to hunt wild boar, badgers and deer. They are protected by Korean law as a national monument and have become the most popular breed in Korea.
Thaek had been a main member of North Korea’s ruling family and had been an advisor to Kim Jong-un. Accused by Jong-un of treason and other crimes against the state, Thack was executed after a perfunctory trial and swift verdict. He had served as vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, and reportedly had used his position to build a strong base of support, which ultimately threatened Jong-un. The execution, which was conducted just hours after the verdict, was carried out in accordance with established guidelines, said the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Since Jang’s execution, Korean experts have speculated that other removals of top officials might lie ahead. The North Korean ambassador to China, Ji Jae-ryong, was a close friend of Jang’s and it is widely speculated that he might be met with “purging” as well.
The Chosun IIbo, a South Korean newspaper, has reported that Choe Ryong-hae may now become the second most powerful man in North Korea.
The United States, technically still at war with North Korea, was quick to react following news of the execution in December. While walking a thin political line about the latest development, the US State Department did say there was no reason to doubt the official KCNA report. “This is another example of the extreme brutality of the North Korean regime,” a State Department spokesman said.
American Senator John McCain, a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN, “I think it’s very obvious this young man is capable of some very aberrational behavior, and given the toys that he has, I think it’s very dangerous. You would think that the Chinese would understand that, as well. They’ve got to rein this young man in—if they can.”
By Jerry Nelson