To the surprise of many, Jang Song-thaek, who has been regarded as the second most influential man in North Korea since state leader Kim Jong-un took power, has reportedly been knocked out of multiple high-ranking positions.
Seoul's National Intelligence Service made an emergency report to the National Assembly Tuesday afternoon, saying that Jang had been overthrown, and two of his close confidants executed.
"Jang Song-taek's two aides Ri Yong-ha and Jang Su-gil were executed publicly in late November."
The two are said to have been executed on charges of plotting anti-communist party schemes against the Kim Jong-un regime.
Jang Song-thaek is not only Kim Jong-un's uncle; he has also been the strongest supporter of the North Korean leader, and oversaw the entire power succession process.
Also as a vice chairman, Jang had full control over the National Defense Commission, the state's most powerful party.
So why the sudden falling out?
Although there are no clear answers, the general consensus among political analysts, is that he was the loser in a power struggle with Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae, foretelling a major shift in North Korea's power structure.
Choe is currently one of the four members of the decision-making Presidium of the Central Committee Workers' Party and vice-chairman of the Party's Central Military Commission.
South Korean officials presume, given the gravity of the matter, that Kim Jong-un is behind all this.
According to Seoul's National Intelligence Service, Kim is spreading word of the executions and feverishly conducting so-called 'ideology education' that calls for blind loyalty to his regime.
Amid the sudden change in Pyongyang's political landscape, the South Korean government is now keeping a keen eye on North Korea's internal political activities.
Han Da-eun, Arirang News.