North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle has been dismissed from his post as vice chairman of the country's top military body. He is widely believed to be the power behind the throne in the secretive state.
Jang Song Thaek (pictured left), long seen as the political regent of his nephew Kim Jong Un in North Korea, is believed to have been dismissed from his post, South Korean media reported on Tuesday, citing Seoul's top spy agency.
In a closed-door session with parliament, South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) said Jang has been removed as vice chairman of the North's powerful National Defence Commission.
Jang was "recently ousted from his position and two of his close confidantes - Ri Yong Ha and Jang Soo Kil - were publicly executed in mid November," the South Korean lawmaker Jung Cheong-rae told reporters, citing NIS officials. He also said Jang had since "disappeared."
Jang was previously purged from office in 2004 under Kim Jong Il's rule, but was reinstated two years later. Since then he has been a central figure in an inner-circle of top officials in the secretive state.
If confirmed, the ouster would mark the most significant political upheaval in North Korea's top leadership since Kim Jong Un took power following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in December 2011.
hc/pfd (Reuters, AFP)