North Korean state television KCNA has broadcast images of Jang Sung-taek – the once powerful uncle of leader Kim Jong-un – being removed from a meeting, confirming reports of his dismissal.
The dramatic images show Jang Sung-taek being escorted from a party session by uniformed guards.
The television accused Jang Sung-taek of forming factions against the state, corruption and “depraved” acts such as womanizing and drug abuse.
Analysts say such a public dismissal is unique and could signal a wider purge.
It is the biggest upheaval in North Korea’s leadership since Kim Jong-un succeeded his father Kim Jongil two years ago.
The KCNA state news agency said the decision was announced after a meeting of the ruling communist Korean Workers’ Party Politburo over the weekend.
News of Jang Sung-taek’s dismissal filtered out in South Korea last week along with reports that two of his close aides had been executed for corruption. It is unclear when these latest images date from.
The KCNA report accuses Jang Sung-taek of being part of a faction working against the North Korean state.
“Jang pretended to uphold the party and leader but was engrossed in such factional acts as dreaming different dreams and involving himself in double-dealing behind the scenes.”
It also accused Jang Sung-taek of offences such as financial mismanagement and selling off national resources for his personal gain, but it also denounced him for leading what it called “a dissolute and depraved life”.
“Ideologically sick and extremely idle and easy-going, he used drugs and squandered foreign currency at casinos while he was receiving medical treatment in a foreign country under the care of the party,” the KCNA report said.
It added that Jang Sung-taek had “improper relations” with several women and “was wined and dined at back parlors of deluxe restaurants”.
Such an official announcement detailing a leader’s alleged crimes is unique.
Almost overnight, Jang Sung-taek has morphed from uncle and mentor to North Korea’s young leader, to “anti-revolutionary” criminal outcast.
The move could be seen as the latest in a series of carefully calibrated moves to demonstrate Kim Jong-un’s control, yet another sign of his authority and an assertion of his independence.
Jang Sung-taek is reported to have been stripped of all his positions and expelled from the party.
On Saturday, North Korean state TV was also reported to have removed footage of Jang Sung-taek from a documentary.