London: Kim Jong-un`s uncle, Jang Song-taek, has solidified his position and is systematically dismantling the power structure put in place by Kim Jong-il before his death in 2011.
According to sources, Jang, who is married to a younger sister of the late Korean leader, has removed U Dong-chuk, the first deputy director of the State Security Department along with the Army chief, Ri Yong-ho. Kim Jong-il had appointed both in January 2009, when he also selected his third and youngest son over an elder son said to be living in Macau, reports The Telegraph.
It is also reported that Ri Je-gang, a one-time first deputy director of the Workers Party`s powerful organisation and Guidance Department, and Jang`s greatest rival, died in a mysterious car accident in May 2010, just a few days before Jang was to be promoted. Spy chief Ryu Kyong was also accused of treason early in 2011 following a visit to Seoul and was purged, the paper said.
"There`d be no reason for Kim Jong-un himself to dismantle after just seven months in office the support structure his father built for him. The shadow of Jang Song-taek looms large over the young leader," said Baek Seung-joo at the Korea Institute for Defence Analyses.
But some experts say there are natural limits to Jang`s power.
"In North Korea, only the Kim family is allowed to reign. Jang`s power will last only as long as his wife is alive," a source said.