Yes, this could be signifcant. Or it could be deliberate to stir up speculation among Korea watchers. Or he could be ill with the flu and just could not make this meeting. This certainly bears watching but we should not jump to conclusions.
2013/01/28 08:23 KST
Absence of N.K. leader's uncle sparks speculation over internal power game
By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (Yonhap) -- The absence of Jang Song-thaek, uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at a key national security meeting may be a sign of a renewed power game inside the reclusive communist nation's leadership, a U.S. expert said Sunday.
Jang, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, did not attend the meeting of top North Korean officials handling security and foreign affairs, in which Kim ordered "substantial and high-profile important state measures," according to Pyongyang's official media.
Kim recently convened the meeting, viewed as North Korea's equivalent of the U.S. National Security Council, to discuss the impact of new U.N. sanctions imposed on his regime for the Dec. 12 rocket launch and Pyongyang's response. The North's media stopped short of specifying the date and venue for the meeting.
"In my judgment, Jang's glaring absence was significant, signaling the emergence of a possible crack in the senior leadership, especially in the relationship between Kim Jong-un and his all-powerful uncle," Alexandre Mansourov, a specialist on North Korea told Yonhap News Agency. He has monitored North Korea issues for decades.
He raised the possibility of divergent approaches between Kim and Jang to the North's international strategy, especially in regard to the issue of a nuclear test and ways to cope with international sanctions.
"As the perceived 'China man in Pyongyang,' Jang may be deliberately staying out of Kim Jong-un's decisions on such a controversial issue as nuclear testing, which is objected by China, in order to preserve 'clean hands' and his good standing in Beijing," he added.
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