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Kim's uncle removed from N. Korean documentary

SEOUL -- Images of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle have been removed from an official state TV documentary, a disappearing act that appears to lend credence to Seoul's claim that Pyongyang's second most powerful official may have been purged by his nephew.

South Korea's spy agency told lawmakers last week that it believes Jang Song Thaek was likely sacked after the executions last month of two close associates, allegedly over corruption. The National Intelligence Service hasn't explained how it obtained the information, and skepticism followed the claim because of past intelligence failures in Seoul regarding the inner workings of the North's secretive government. But some worry that, if true, the purge of such a powerful figure could lead to dangerous instability.

On Saturday, North Korea's state TV repeated a documentary on Kim Jong Un's military inspection trips. Although Jang appeared throughout the version that aired on Oct. 28, images of him had vanished from the new version. North Korea has previously deleted the images of purged officials from state videos and publications, according to a South Korean government agency that tracks North Korean propaganda.

In one scene in the original version, the bespectacled Jang can be seen wearing a winter parka and standing behind Kim Jong Un as the leader shakes hands with a soldier. But Jang cannot be seen in Saturday's version, which has the same title and narration. Elsewhere in the older version, he is seen clapping his hands from a distance as a uniformed officer speaks to Kim. But the new version only shows what appear to be parts of Jang's right arm, chest and abdomen.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, is followed by his uncle Jang Song Thaek, second from left, and Yang Hyong Sop, left, vice president of the Presidium of North Korea's parliament, as he tours the newly opened Fatherland Liberation War Museum as part of celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea on July 27. (AP)

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