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'Business as usual' for N. Korean ambassador to China: source

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

BEIJING, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- The North Korean ambassador to China, considered one of the close aides to the purged uncle of the North's leader Kim Jong-un, appears to be conducting "business as usual for now," a Seoul diplomatic source said Monday, on the same day that Pyongyang confirmed the powerful uncle had been sacked from office.

The North Korean ambassador, Ji Jae-ryong, has shared the same political fate as the purged uncle, Jang Song-thaek, over the past three decades, and served as a "linking pin" between Jang and the Chinese leadership since he took up the post in 2010, the source said.

"So far, we have detected no unusual movements at the North Korean embassy in Beijing," the source said on the condition of anonymity.

"It has also been business as usual for Ambassador Ji Jae-ryong and other North Korean diplomats," the source said.

Early on Monday, North Korea acknowledged the purge of the 67-year-old Jang, accusing him of alleged "anti-state" acts, corruption and other crimes.

The North's confirmation came days after South Korea's National Intelligence Agency said Jang had been apparently dismissed from all of his posts and two of his close aides were publicly executed.

Some analysts view the purge of Jang as a sign that Kim, believed to be around 30, is further consolidating his grip on power. Others, however, fear it may be a development that has the potential to incite a power struggle in the North's hierarchy.

Last week, an intelligence source in Beijing said that the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia, Jang Yong-chol, who is a nephew of Jang, was believed to have been recalled home.

The wife and two 20-something sons of the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia were also spotted last week before boarding an Air Koryo flight in China's northeastern city of Shenyang, multiple witnesses said.

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