North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the execution of his uncle Jang Song Thaek last month for his role in procuring teenage girls to satisfy the sexual desires of Kim's father, according to a former Japanese chef for the Kim family.
Kenji Fujimoto said that by having Jang killed, Kim "wanted to prove that he's different" from his father Kim Jong Il and his grandfather Kim Il Sung, both of whom he said had "quite a history with women."
Fujimoto claimed that aside from his official duties as de facto number two to Kim Jong Il, the 67-year-old Jang had been in charge of a "pleasure division" tasked with recruiting girls aged 15-16 years for the late dictator.
Fujimoto, who was Kim Jong Il's personal sushi chef from 1988 to 2001, said Jang would receive and "screen" batches of about 100 girls each for the pleasure division, of which only 10 would be picked for a final "interview" with the Great Leader, said Fujimoto, who claimed to have attended about half a dozen such interviews.
“[Kim Jong Un] hates that kind of thing the most. His grandfather Kim Il Sung did similar things. His father also had quite a history with women. So having seen them, he wants to prove that he’s different and that he would eradicate such practices,” Fujimoto told RFA's Korean Service in an interview.
“Jang Song Thaek ... did what the Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un hates the most—having relations with multiple women. He could not forgive this, so he executed Jang Song Thaek, his caretaker,” said the chef who fled North Korea in 2001 but was invited back for a visit by Kim Jong Un in 2012 and was photographed embracing the young leader.
In announcing Jang's Dec. 12 execution, the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) had accused him of, among other charges, a "hideous crime [of] attempting to overthrow the state" and harboring "a wild ambition to grab the supreme power" of the reclusive and nuclear-armed state.
In his New Year message broadcast on state TV, Kim defended the execution of his uncle—who was married to his father’s sister—saying it was a "resolute action" and labeling Jang "scum."
Fujimoto did not attribute his analysis of Jang's execution to any particular sources in North Korea and his remarks could not be independently confirmed.
There has been widespread speculation over Jang's execution following a summary military trial. Although reports suggest Kim Jong Un is believed to have felt threatened by Jang's power, many are still puzzled why he suddenly wanted Jang purged and executed.
Jang, who had served under both the Kims as vice-chairman of the National Defense Commission, a position considered second only to the Supreme Leader, played a major role in helping the inexperienced Kim Jong Un since he took power following the death of his father in December 2011.
'Nothing to do with politics'
Fujimoto dismissed suggestions that the execution was aimed at solidifying Kim Jong Un's authority or over disagreements about a lucrative coal mining business.
"Nothing to do with that. Only about his relations with women."
"It has absolutely nothing to do with politics."
Last year, reports emerging from Pyongyang said the ruthless Kim Jong Un had also ordered the execution of a former lover because she appeared in a porn film.
Unlike his father who was never shown in public with any of his wives or mistresses, projecting an intensely private image, Kim Jong Un has appeared numerous times with his wife, Ri Sol Ju, in public since he assumed power.
Fujimoto also said that Jang's death could trigger a power struggle.
Jang, together with the current chief of the military politburo, Choe Ryong Hae, had helped Kim Jong Un keep a close watch on any scramble for power, he said.
"I'm sure Choe has many subordinates. But it will be difficult to keep control now. There will definitely be cases of power struggle."
Reported by RFA's Korean Service. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.