As outsiders try to figure out why North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had his uncle executed this week, they’re focusing on a couple things. According to NPR’s Frank Langfitt:
– There seems have been “a lot of genuine personal dislike” between Kim and Jang Song Thaek, the uncle and until this week North Korea’s second most powerful man.
Kim may have been “angry that his uncle disrespected him,” Frank said on Morning Edition. According to North Korea’s official news agency, Jang clapped “half-heartedly” when Kim was elected vice chairman of the country’s central military commission.
– Kim also may have wanted to send a message to others in the regime that “no one is safe … don’t mess with me.”
Officially, as we reported Thursday, North Korea’s news agency says Jang was found guilty of treason. He allegedly “brought together undesirable forces and formed a faction … and thus committed such hideous crime as attempting to overthrow the state.”
In South Korea, the Yonhap News agency reports that “Seoul [is] wary of provocations by North Korea after Jang’s execution.”
The North might even go so far as to test another nuclear weapon, Yonhap says:
“Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said the recent purge is likely to be followed by military provocations, including a nuclear bomb test. Touching on the speculation that the North will soon conduct their fourth nuclear test, the minister said in a parliamentary meeting, ‘That is probable. We are keeping an eye on such a possibility.’ “