The execution of Kim Jong-un's uncle and second in command, Jang Song Thaek, was the biggest upheaval in North Korea since the death of his father Kim Jong-il.
The official newspaper of the party published a photograph of Jang in handcuffs and being held by uniformed guards. The state news agency said Jang was executed after being found guilty of treason.
There were also rumors that he was stripped naked and fed to a pack of rabid dogs.
He wasn’t just put to death; all positive stories about him as well as his pictures were deleted. It was like he never existed.
However, now, three years after his death, he appeared in a documentary by local filmmaker about 11 important figures in North Korea. What’s more the film was aired on state-run media.
Though Jang appeared in just one photo and that from the 1990s for a mere nine seconds, Kim Jong-un isn’t known to be a forgiving leader. The filmmaker’s fate, therefore, seems to be hanging in a precarious balance.
The documentary maker could face jail or even death penalty for televising an "enemy of the state."
There are more rumors, or rather speculations, that Jang could actually be alive and this "hint" of him could actually be a hint of him coming back to public eye.
After all, he did vanish from the public eye three times during his tenure but was reinstated twice.
“It is hard for me to believe that the North ‘mistakenly’ televised the picture of Jang Song Thaek standing next to Kim Jong-il,” says professor Cheong Seong-chang of the Sejong Institute, a leading think tank in South Korea.
“If the North Korean leadership have purposefully broadcast his photo, then it is possible that Jang could be reinstated.”
However, Ra Jong-yil, a former top South Korean spy and the ex- first deputy chief of the National Intelligence Service disagrees.
“Just because Kim Jong-un’s power has been stabilized over the years since Jang’s death, there is no chance that Jang — who was executed as a traitor — would be reinstated in any form,” he says.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters, KCNA