Aide of Kim's uncle seeks asylum in S Korea

JangSongThaek.jpg

Jang song-thaek, Chief of the Central Administrative Department of the Workers' Party of Korea, exits car as he arrives at Zhongnanhai, the central government compound, in Beijing, in this August 17, 2012 file photo.

SEOUL - An aide of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's uncle is seeking asylum in South Korea after fleeing his country ahead of a leadership purge, a report said Friday.

South Korean officials believe the escapee might have managed funds for Jang Song-Thaek, who until this week was regarded as Kim's political regent, said the South's cable news network YTN, citing intelligence sources.

The report also said he may have information on secret funds controlled by the Kim family.

It said the man escaped from Pyongyang two months ago and is now under the protection of South Korean intelligence agents in China while he awaits a flight to Seoul

The South's spy agency and the Unification Ministry declined to confirm the report.

The South's National Intelligence Service (NIS) told a parliamentary committee Tuesday that it believed Kim's uncle Jang had been removed and two associates executed.

YTN said the aide fled after discovering Jang's dismissal.

On Thursday, Yonhap news agency reported that North Korea's ambassador to Malaysia Jang Yong-Chol had been recalled after Jang was apparently ousted.

The ambassador's wife and two sons were spotted Thursday before boarding a flight in China's northeastern city of Shenyang to Pyongyang, Yonhap said, citing multiple witnesses.

It said the ambassador, one of Jang's nephews, was believed to have been recalled earlier.

Jang's apparent dismissal is particularly noteworthy given the crucial role he was seen as having played in securing Kim's own succession after his father Kim Jong-Il's death.

The NIS assessment triggered a wave of conjecture as to why Kim had seemingly turned on the 67-year-old who helped put him on the throne.

However, the NIS report was only an assessment and it is yet to be confirmed whether Jang has actually been dismissed.

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