By Danielle Demetriou, Tokyo
North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un was "very drunk" when he ordered the execution of two aides close to his purged uncle, according to Japanese newspaper reports.
The young leader ordered the execution of two aides after they reportedly failed to respond immediately to a request to hand over a profitable business to the military.
The two aides were close to Jang Song-thaek, Kim's uncle, who only weeks later was dramatically stripped of his powerful posts and executed in an effort by the leader to consolidate his grip on power
They were believed to be among at least eight aides from Jang's circle who were believed to have been executed in the run-up to his own execution this month, the Yomiuri Shimbun added.
As a result, the purging of Jang was reportedly predicted by the South Korean government, which apparently learnt of the executions of his aides via wiretapping conversations.
"Those who were close [to the two aides] were surprised by their execution, and made phone calls to their friends living abroad, and the South Korean government [spy agency] wiretapped their phone conversations," the newspaper said. "The South Korean government then concluded that the purge of Jang Song-thaek was inevitable, based on the testimony of people involved with the case."
South Korea's spy chief briefed parliament on the purges, claiming Jang Song-thaek stemmed from his attempts to take control of the country's lucrative coal export business.
Nam Jae-Joon, the head of South Korea's National Intelligence Service, said Jang's attempts to secure control of state-run natural resources businesses played a big part in his downfall.
Nam, briefing members of parliament's intelligence committee on the situation in the North, also said the young ruler currently "appears to have no problem" in his grip on power - but may stage armed provocations against the South sometime between January and March to rally domestic unity.
"Jang intervened too much in lucrative state businesses...related to coal, which drew mounting complaints from other (related) state bodies," lawmaker Jung Chung-Rae, a member of the committee, quoted Nam as saying at the closed hearing.
Jang for years handled the country's mineral exports, which go mostly to China.
The impoverished but mineral-rich North has sought for years to bolster its crumbling economy by increasing exports of coal and other minerals, which account for the bulk of its exports to China.
But Jang and his associates angered other top party officials by rapidly expanding their control over the coveted mineral businesses.
"Kim Jong-Un was briefed about it and issued orders to correct the situation," Mr Jung said. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/10535033/Kim-Jong-un-very-drunk-when-he-ordered-execution-of-uncles-two-aides.html