KEY POINTS

  • Bob Woodward's new book shares excerpts of the letters between Trump and North Korea's Kim
  • Kim Jong-un allegedly shared details about his uncle's execution to President Trump
  • In 2013, Kim ordered the execution of his relative who was found guilty of treason

An upcoming book from investigative journalist Bob Woodward will share excerpts from letters between President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, including one in which Kim details a graphic story about having his uncle killed. 

According to snippets obtained by The Washington Post from the book ‘Rage,’ Kim touted his 2019 meeting with Trump as “historic” and underscored the discussions as “precious,” saying it will create a deep and special friendship between both leaders. 

Trump, who was allegedly taken with the North Korean leader’s flattery, boasted to Woodward that Kim told him everything, including a very graphic account of Kim ordering his uncle’s execution. 

Jang Song-thaek, an uncle of Kim Jong-un, was executed for treason in 2013 despite his deep ties to the regime. He married one of the daughters of the country’s founder, Kim Il-sung, in 1972 despite her father’s reluctance., but quickly won over the family's favor.

Jang’s career took off under the patronage of his brother-in-law Kim Jong-il, who was also the regime’s successor. He helped Kim Jong-un establish himself as the successor after Jong-il died in 2011. At the same time, he also used his power to expand his influence and act on his ambition. 

Mr. Jang purged his rivals and wrested the right to export coal to China from the North’s military forces to his administrative department. He was later accused of planting moles in critical positions and taking advantage of the country’s mineral exports. 

In late 2013, KCNA, a state news agency, said a military tribunal found Jang guilty of treason. Rodong Sinmun newspaper also published a photograph of him handcuffed and escorted by uniformed guards. 

Jang was taken to the Gang Gun Military Academy in Pyongyang, where hundreds of officials gathered to witness the execution of two of his trusted deputies, Ri Ryong-ha and Jang Su-gil. 

The two men worked alongside Jang in the ruling worker’s party’s administrative department. According to The New York Times, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service said Ryong-ha and Su-gil were torn apart by antiaircraft machine guns. The executioners later burned their bodies using flamethrowers. 

Jang, who was widely considered the second-most powerful figure in North Korea, fainted during the execution. He was convicted of plotting a military coup and was later executed in the same way as his deputies. The KNCA called Jang a “traitor” and “worse than a dog” following the incident. 

“He lost his mind due to his greed for power,” the agency reported. “He persistently plotted to spread his evil design into the military, believing that he could overthrow the leadership if he could mobilize the military.”

The book expects to shed light on the executions and other details of Trump and Kim's unusual relationship. It is scheduled for release Sept. 15.

US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un talk before a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019, in Panmunjom, Korea US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un talk before a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019, in Panmunjom, Korea Photo: AFP / Brendan Smialowski