It’s a report out of North Korea almost too heartless to believe — which is why we’re going to take this one with a grain of salt.
According to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un had the entire family of his late uncle Jang Song-thaek executed — including children.
Jang was one of North Korea’s most powerful officials before he died and was thought to have had considerable influence over his relatively inexperienced nephew. The world learned in December the North Korean government executed Jang for allegedly plotting to overthrow the regime. (Via BBC)
Now, this latest report that Jang's family was also purged cites only unnamed sources. It's also somewhat hard to take seriously considering several recent stories about Kim were later proven false.
Like this one we now know is not true, which claimed Kim had his uncle eaten by 120 dogs. (Via NBC)
Still, The Telegraph notes Yonhap News Agency “has been wrong on North Korea news in the past, but was the first media organisation to report on Jang's death, days before it was announced by North Korean media.”
And a writer at Forbes explains the practice of eliminating an entire family in this way isn't exactly unheard of in North Korea. “The time-honored way for Korea’s Jeoson dynasty leaders to get rid of a challenger or threat to their power was to execute not only the bad guy but all members of his family.”
Kim's widowed aunt, Kim Kyong-hui, is thought to still be alive, though she hasn’t been seen in public since September. By some accounts, she’s still in a coma following a brain operation. (Via Business Insider, U.S. News & World Report)
Yonhap also reports some of Jang's relatives by marriage were spared and exiled to remote villages with their families.