PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea said today that Jang Song Thaek, uncle and presumed mentor of leader Kim Jong Un, was executed for plotting a military coup.
The announcement was a highly unusual admission of instability from the reclusive, nuclear-armed country, which normally cloaks any signs of disloyalty to the Kim dynasty that has ruled since the country's founding. It was the first time in recent decades that the North revealed a purported attempt to overthrow its leadership, analysts said, and the first announced execution of a member of the ruling family.
Calling him a "traitor" and "worse than a dog," the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Jang, 67, was executed Thursday, immediately after he was convicted of treason in a special military court.
North Korea released a photo of Jang standing at the military court, with his hands bound. Two State Security agents held his arms while one of them pressed the back of Jang's neck so he would bow before the tribunal. The report from the state news agency did not say how Jang was executed. The North usually executes criminals by a firing squad.
Even before the reported execution, Jang's recent downfall had raised worries in the United States and South Korea that Kim might lash out, possibly staging another nuclear test or instigating a military provocation against the South.
South Korean officials said Kim was resorting to "a reign of terror" to consolidate his power.
Jang was the husband of Kim Kyong Hui, a sister of Kim Jong Il, the late North Korean leader and Kim Jong Un's father. The wife's fate was unknown.