(Photo: Reuters/KRT via Reuters TV)
North Korean media reported Thursday that the "worse than a dog" uncle of Kim Jong Un has been executed, describing him as a traitor who tried to overthrow the oppressive government.
State media announced Thursday that the leader's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who had previously been considered a very powerful figure in North Korean government, was executed after "attempting to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state." The report announcing Jang's death called him a "traitor to the nation," "worse than a dog" and "despicable human scum."
Earlier this week, state media had announced that Jang had been removed from his position as No. 2 in the country after he allegedly participated in criminal acts including corruption, gambling, womanizing, and drug use while visiting a foreign country. He was also accused of abusing his power. Jang was married to Kim's aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, the younger sister of previous leader Kim Jong Il.
Alexandre Monsourav, a specialist on North Korea at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies, told NBC News that Kim's decision to kill someone in his own family sends an alarming message to the U.S. regarding extremist tendencies.
"Kim Jong Un is willing to kill his own blood. He's showing that really he has no mercy or pity. To me it's a very worrisome sign. You see these extremist actions, you really have to take it very seriously."
Additionally, National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell told Fox News that while the U.S. cannot yet verify the claim that Jang has been executed, it has no reason to doubt such a brutal event would take place. "While we cannot independently verify this development, we have no reason to doubt the official KCNA report that Jang Song Thaek has been executed," Ventrell said. "If confirmed, this is another example of the extreme brutality of the North Korean regime. We are following developments in North Korea closely and consulting with our allies and partners in the region."
Since Kim Jong Un took power of the isolated Asian country in 2011 following the death of his father, the country's unpredictable government has shown more frequent signs of extremist behavior. In early 2013, North Korea claimed it had conducted an underground nuclear test, and later threatened a pre-emptive nuclear attack against the U.S. The Asian country was later punished for its nuclear test with tighter sanctions granted by the United Nations Security Council.