SEOUL, South Korea - While hereditary leader Kim Jong Un is the unquestioned ruler of North Korea, until last weekend his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, was thought to be the country's second-most-powerful figure, widely considered Kim's mentor and regent.
But at a high party meeting on Sunday, Jang was yanked out of the assembly by two military guards, his humiliating ouster broadcast on North Korean television.
On Friday morning, North Korea's official news agency KCNA announced he had been executed.
Jang, 67, had occupied a privileged and yet precarious spot within the inner circle.
He was the son-in-law of the founder of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, and was married to Kim Il Sung's only daughter, Kim Kyong Hui. She was the younger sister to the former leader, Kim Jong Il, and the aunt of the country's current leader, Kim Jong Un.
Jang's dizzying fall from grace, accompanied by allegations from corruption to womanizing and capped by his arrest at the party meeting Sunday, has suggested to some analysts that the younger Kim is still trying to consolidate the power he inherited from his father two years ago.
Last week, South Korea's spy agency reported that Jang might have been dismissed, and said his two closest confidants had been executed.