According to Yohap News, multiple sources have reported that the direct relatives of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, have been executed. While USA Today reports that the story has yet to be confirmed by a South Korean agency, the report is in alignment with the dictator's policy to punish family members of the incarcerated for their crimes against the state.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) leader Kim Jong Un publicly executed his Uncle, Jang Song Thaek, in December. Jang was considered by many to be second in power in the country's political party, though he had been estranged from Kim's aunt - the biological daughter of North Korean founder Kim II Sung - for several years.
It is believed that Kim Jong Un had Jang's sister and her husband - the North Korean ambassador to Cuba - killed shortly after Jang's execution took place, along with the ambassador to Malaysia, who was Jang's nephew, and his two sons. It has been reported that the sons, daughters, and grandchildren of Jang's deceased elder brothers were put to death as well.
It is tragically common for the family members of those charged with treason against the North Korean government to face the same punishment of the alleged criminals - whether that be execution or being sent to inhumane prison camps. A source told Yohap News that Jang's relatives were executed so that "no traces of him should be left," which might be an indication that Kim fears that members of Jang Song Thaek's family would form opposition to his rule over the DPRK.
Around the same time that Jang was arrested in December, the ambassadors and their families were told to report back to North Korea. It is thought that they were killed shortly thereafter - "Some relatives were shot to death by pistol in front of other people if they resisted," a source told Yohap News. Kim also reportedly banished a non-blood relative of Jang's to live in a remote village with her family.
Analysts suspect that Kim may be trying to purge any potential opposition to his rule amidst political instability in North Korea.