|Kim Jong Un takes a ski lift ride during|
his inspection tour at a ski resort
near Wonsan, North Korea.
Kim Jong-un’s uncle was killed after being stripped naked and fed to a pack of hungry dogs, according to reports in a Chinese state-backed newspaper.
North Korea has already described Jang Song Thaek as “despicable human scum, worse than a dog,” but the report, which appears in Hong Kong’s Wen Wei Po newspaper, suggests he may have met his end in the jaws of dogs.
The account - which cannot be verified - describes how Jang Song Thaek and five of his aides were stripped naked and fed to 120 hungry hounds, who had been starved for three days. The whole process lasted is reported to have lasted an hour, and as they were eaten, hundreds of officials watched.
The Singaporean Straits Times claims that the brutal account listed alongside a number of other criticisms in the report shows how Beijing is displeased with the changing regime, but currently there is no consistent editorial line in Chinese state media. The method of execution by dogs has also not been confirmed by North Korea.
Previously it had been reported that a number of Jang Song Thaek’s aides were executed with anti-aircraft machine guns.
Aidan Foster-Carter, a senior research fellow in Sociology and Modern Korea at Leeds University, told The Independent: “I put no cruelty past the North Korean regime, but it does sound extreme even for them. In the recent past, they did have an effigy of the South Korean president mauled by dogs.
“However the killing of Jang Song Thaek has been an episode of state terrorism and the fact they did purge him and it was done so publicly shows that the military and Kim Jong-un is trying to warn people not to revolt and how savage punishments can been.
“Although China clearly allows its media and social media to be ruder than in the past this doesn’t mean they are going to stop supporting North Korea.”
Kim Jong-un described the execution of his 67-year-old uncle as the removal of “factionalist filth”, in his New Year message, adding that his purge left North Korea in a much stronger position.
Jang Song Thaek was a key member of North Korea's first family, a man widely seen as regent to leader Kim Jong-un, In all, at least eight people from Jang's circle were executed in the purge - alongside the director himself.
Source: The Independent, January 3, 2014
No, Kim Jong Un probably didn’t feed his uncle to 120 hungry dogs
If you've been on the Internet at all today, you've almost certainly seen the story claiming that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had his uncle executed last month by stripping him naked and feeding him to 120 hungry dogs. The story was first reported by a minor Hong Kong outlet on Dec. 12, was picked up by a Singaporean newspaper on Dec. 24 and since late Thursday has been sweeping through nearly every corner of the U.S. media. The only problem is that it's probably – probably – not true.
It was indeed a big surprise last month when South Korean intelligence revealed that Kim had purged his own uncle, Jang Song Thaek, which North Korea confirmed a couple of days later with a long screed in its state media. The highly public nature of the purge, which ended with Pyongyang announcing Jang's execution, was totally unprecedented and legitimately shocking, which is a high bar for North Korea news.
Crazy-sounding stories happen with some frequency in North Korea, where the government has a well-earned reputation for taking political punishments to medieval extremes. But there are five big reasons that this story just does not seem particularly plausible. The fact that the Western media have so widely accepted a story they would reject if it came out of any other country tells us a lot about how North Korea is covered -- and how it's misunderstood.
First and foremost, let's consider the source. The story originated in a Hong Kong newspaper called Wen Wei Po, which oddly makes the claim without citing a source. With a couple of high-quality exceptions, Hong Kong media have a reputation for sensationalist and tabloidy stories that do not always turn out to be true. But, even by Hong Kong standards, Wen Wei Po is considered an unusually unreliable outlet. A recent study found that, out of Hong Kong's 21 newspapers, Wen Wei Po ranks 19th for credibility. (Thanks to Asia-watcher Taylor Washburn for flagging this.)
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Source: The Washington Post, January 3, 2014