N. Korea purges Jang’s associates: Seoul minister

 N. Korea purges Jang’s associates: Seoul minister
Jang Song Thaek, with his hands tied with a rope, is dragged into the court by uniformed personnel in this December 13, 2013

SEOUL- North Korea is purging officials who were close to the executed uncle of leader Kim Jong-Un, a South Korean minister said Monday.

Jang Song-Thaek, once the North's unofficial number two and Kim's political mentor, was put to death on December 12 on an array of charges including treason and corruption.

The shock purge - staged in an unusually dramatic and public fashion in the isolated communist state - was the biggest political upheaval since the young ruler took power after the death of his father and the former leader, Kim Jong-Il, two years ago.

Seoul's spy chief earlier this month said two of Jang's associates had also been executed, while Pyongyang reportedly recalled some diplomats or trade officials overseas who were believed to have been close to Jang.

"We are seeing signs that those who were deeply involved with Jang are being recalled and purged," Ryoo Kihl-Jae, South Korea's unification minister in charge of cross-border affairs, told lawmakers.

The purge however appears to be targeting a relatively small circle of officials, Ryoo said, rejecting speculation of a sweeping clear-out of party and military ranks.

"We do not see that it (the purge) is being carried out on a large scale, though it still needs to be seen to what direction it would develop," he told members of parliament's foreign affairs committee.

Yonhap news agency said Friday the North's ambassador to Sweden, Pak Kwang-Chol, and his wife had been summoned back to Pyongyang.

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