Jang was considered the second most powerful man in North Korea before his fall, which was announced last week and followed days later by his execution for a long list of anti-state crimes, including building a power base of his own to rival and possibly overthrow Kim and the ruling Workers' Party.
His removal leaves no clear No. 2 under Kim, whose inner circle now includes Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae, Premier Pak Pong Ju and the ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong Nam.
In an interview aired Sunday on ABC's "This Week," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Jang's execution is "an ominous sign of the instability" of North Korea and underscores the urgency of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
"To have a nuclear weapon, potentially, in the hands of somebody like Kim Jong Un just becomes even more unacceptable," Kerry said.What will happen next in Pyongyang remains unclear, but North Korea watchers will be closely following the second anniversary of Kim Jong Il's death on Tuesday for clues. Of particular interest is whether Jang's wife, Kim Kyong Hui, the younger sister of Kim Jong Il, will be present in official ceremonies. Her name appeared in a state media dispatch late Saturday alongside top officials on a funeral committee for fellow senior Workers' Party official Kim Kuk Thae, who died Friday. Kim Kyong Hui, 67, has risen through the ranks in recent years and holds a slew of top posts. Analysts said the dispatch suggested that her political standing hasn't been immediately affected by her husband's execution and that she may have even given her nephew the green light to fire Jang a¿¿ but not to have him executed. "She may have opposed Jang's death sentence, but she could have agreed on Jang being dismissed," said analyst Hong Hyun-ik from the private Sejong Institute in South Korea.