SEOUL: North Korea aired a rerun of a TV documentary on Saturday about its leader Kim Jong Un that cut out appearances by his uncle who had been considered the second most powerful man in the country, reinforcing reports that he has been ousted.
North Korea's official TV broadcast the documentary, which had already been aired nine times. But this time, Kim's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, appeared in different positions to make his face invisible or entire scenes were re-edited to remove him, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.
South Korea's spy agency says it believes Jang was relieved of his posts last month. If true, the changes could mean Pyongyang is undergoing the biggest upheaval in the leadership circle since the death in 2011 of former leader Kim Jong Il, the current leader's father.
Kim Jong Un, the third in his family to rule the secretive state, was the focus of the hour-long documentary aired again on Saturday, with Jang removed or hidden in 13 scenes, Yonhap said.
Jang is married to Kim's aunt, the daughter of the North's founding leader Kim Il Sung, and was widely considered to be working to ensure his nephew firmly established his grip on power in the past two years.
It is still unclear which of his high-level titles, including vice chairman of the powerful National Defence Commission and membership in the ruling Workers' Party politburo, may have been taken away.
But South Korean official say he is likely alive in no immediate physical danger, as is his wife, Kim Kyong Hui.
Jang has been a prominent fixture in many of the reports and photographs of Kim Jong Un's public activities, but his appearances have tapered off sharply this year and he has not been since in official media since early November.