44 Facts About Jang Song-thaek


Jang Song-thaek was a leading figure in the government of North Korea.

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Jang Song-thaek was married to Kim Kyong-hui, the only daughter of North Korean Premier Kim Il-sung and his first wife Kim Jong-suk, and only sister of North Korean general secretary Kim Jong-il.

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Jang Song-thaek was therefore the uncle of current leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.

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Jang Song-thaek was vice-chairman of the National Defence Commission, a position considered second only to that of the Supreme Leader.

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Jang Song-thaek is believed to have been promoted to four-star general around the time of Kim Jong-il's death in December 2011, as his first appearance in uniform was while visiting Kim lying in state.

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In December 2013, Jang Song-thaek was abruptly accused of being a counter-revolutionary and was stripped of all his posts and expelled from the Workers' Party of Korea .

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Jang Song-thaek's photos were removed from official media and his image digitally removed from photos with other North Korean leaders.

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Jang Song-thaek was born in Chongjin, during the Soviet Civil Administration of Northern Korea.

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Jang Song-thaek graduated from the Kim Il-sung Senior High School before leaving for Moscow, where he studied at Moscow State University between 1968 and 1972.

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Jang Song-thaek's career recovered and he became deputy director of the Youth Work Department of the 6th WPK Central Committee in 1982 and director in 1985.

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Jang Song-thaek was first elected to the Supreme People's Assembly, North Korea's nominal parliament, in 1986.

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Jang Song-thaek was a member of the funeral committee for Kim Il-sung in 1994.

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Jang Song-thaek was appointed to be the first deputy director of the WPK's Organization and Guidance Department in November 1995.

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Jang Song-thaek had been identified by outside analysts as well as North Korean defector Hwang Jang-yop as a possible successor to Kim Jong-il; however, on 25 November 2004, South Korea's National Assembly heard testimony that he had been purged from his position.

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Some South Korean intelligence reports indicated that Jang Song-thaek was under house arrest in Pyongyang, while others suggested he might have been sent for "reeducation".

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Jang Song-thaek re-emerged in March 2006, accompanying Kim Jong-il on an official visit to China.

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In October 2007, the Korean Central News Agency confirmed that Jang Song-thaek had been promoted to the newly recreated post of first vice-director of the Workers' Party of Korea, with oversight responsibility for the police, judiciary, and other areas of internal security; Jang Song-thaek attended South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun's luncheon during the latter's visit to the North.

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Jang Song-thaek was elected to the National Defence Commission in April 2009.

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Jang Song-thaek was made vice-chairman of the commission in summer 2010.

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Jang Song-thaek was still in the post four years later, in April 2013.

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The NDC was North Korea's de facto supreme decision-making body; Jang Song-thaek's promotion made him a key executive deputy, second only to Kim Jong-il.

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Jang Song-thaek's appearance suggested that Jang had secured a key role in the North's military, which had pledged its allegiance to Kim Jong-un.

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Jang Song-thaek's importance continued to be demonstrated during his 2012 visit to China: various aspects of the visit echoed protocol which had previously been followed only for Kim Jong-il, including half of his entourage arriving ahead of time as an advance party, with the Chinese ambassador to North Korea, Liu Hongcai, returning to China beforehand to greet Jang Song-thaek upon his arrival.

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On 17 August 2012, Jang Song-thaek met with China's premier, Wen Jiabao in Ziguangge, Zhongnanhai.

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Jang Song-thaek met with Hu Jintao, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Wang Jiarui, head of China's international department of the CPC central committee and minister in charge of the national development and reform commission, Zhang Ping, minister of finance Xie Xuren, minister of commerce Chen Deming, Liaoning provincial Party Committee Secretary Wang Min, Jilin provincial Party Committee Secretary Sun Zhengcai, and vice foreign minister Zhang Zhijun.

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Jang Song-thaek was the head of a delegation of the joint steering committee for developing and managing the Rason Economic and Trade Zone and the Hwanggumpyong and Wihwa Islands Economic Zone.

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Jang Song-thaek said Kim Jong-un believed that bilateral relations with China are important and that the "profound friendship will be passed on from generation to generation" between China and North Korea.

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In January 2013, speculation arose that Jang Song-thaek had been quietly promoted to top decision-making Politburo Presidium member, as his official hierarchy position was elevated, displacing then-Chief of General Staff Hyon Yong-chol and his own wife Kim Kyong-hui.

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An analyst argued that Jang Song-thaek might be appointed president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly or Premier of North Korea, replacing officeholders who were in their 80s.

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Jang Song-thaek promoted the construction of a new bridge over the Yalu River between the Chinese city of Dandong and the Korean city of Sinuiju.

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That same month, Jang Song-thaek was not invited to the meeting of top North Korean officials handling national security and foreign affairs, following a rocket launch on 12 December 2012, and new international sanctions in response.

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Forces loyal to Jang Song-thaek defied the transfer, leading to a confrontation in late 2013, in which several North Korean soldiers loyal to Kim Jong-un were killed.

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Ri was reportedly accused of abusing his authority, while Jang Song-thaek Su-gil was found guilty of trying to organize a new faction and rejecting the system.

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The statement detailed many charges against Jang Song-thaek, stating that he "had desperately worked for years to destabilize and bring down the DPRK and grab the supreme power of the party and state by employing all the most cunning and sinister means and methods".

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The statement accused Jang Song-thaek of bringing "serious harm to the youth movement in the DPRK, being part of the group of renegades and traitors in the field of youth work, bribed by the enemies".

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On 12 December 2013, Jang Song-thaek was tried by a special secret military tribunal of the Ministry of State Security and executed by firing squad, according to state media.

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Chinese media and North Korea experts suggested that Jang Song-thaek's fall reflected a rejection of his efforts to prioritize economic development, and a victory for North Korean advocates of a military-first policy.

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So, when I heard of Mr Jang Song-thaek's execution, my first thought was that it was a death notice for those of us who have hoped for economic reform in the North.

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Analysts of North Korean politics agreed that Jang Song-thaek's execution was the most significant since purges carried out in the 1950s by Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-un's grandfather and North Korea's founder; since 1960, purged top officials have not usually been killed, and the denunciations of purged figures have not typically been so extreme and public.

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Jang Song-thaek noted that Kim Jong-un's cabinet continued to emphasize economic incentive systems, innovation, and economic cooperation with China.

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The dramatic episode of Jang Song-thaek's downfall has created a formidable deterrent to any potential or actual opposing groups.

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Deputy tourism minister Jo Sung-goyu, another Jang Song-thaek relative, canceled a planned trip to a tourism summit in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

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Dennis Rodman, a former U S basketball star, told the magazine that during his visit to North Korea in January 2014, Jang Song-thaek was not executed and stood behind him in the photo shoot, sparking controversy.

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Zheng Chang, director of the Unified Strategic Research Office of the Institute of Korea, made another statement about Jang Song-thaek's continued survival, arguing that no senior officials were present at the time of the execution and that Jang Song-thaek was actually placed under house arrest and enjoy the same living conditions as before.

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