N Korea executes vice premier for 'disrespect'
31 August 2016, 20:44
Seoul – North Korea has executed a vice premier for
showing disrespect during a meeting presided over by leader Kim Jong-Un, and
banished two other officials for re-education, South Korea said on Wednesday.
Since taking power after his father's death in late
2011, Kim is believed to have executed or demoted a number of senior figures in
what analysts say is an attempt to tighten his grip on power.
"Vice premier for education Kim Yong-Jin was
executed," Seoul's Unification Ministry spokesperson Jeong Joon-Hee said
at a regular briefing.
Kim was killed by a firing squad in July as
"an anti-party, anti-revolutionary agitator," added an official at
the ministry, who declined to be named.
"Kim Yong-Jin was denounced for his bad
sitting posture when he was sitting below the rostrum" during a session of
North Korea's parliament, and then underwent an interrogation that revealed his
other crimes, the official told reporters.
The mass-selling JoongAng Ilbo first reported on
Tuesday that top figures had been punished, but identified the education
official by a different name.
"He incurred the wrath of Kim after he dozed
off during a meeting presided over by Kim. He was arrested on site and
intensively questioned by the state security ministry," it quoted a source
Fall of spymaster
The unification ministry said two other senior
figures were forced to undergo re-education sessions.
One of them was Kim Yong-Chol, a top official in
charge of inter-Korean affairs and espionage activities against the South.
The 71-year-old Kim is a career military
intelligence official who is believed to be the mastermind behind the North's
frequent cyberattacks against Seoul.
Kim is also blamed by the South for the sinking of
a South Korean warship in 2010 near the disputed sea border with the North in
the Yellow Sea.
Kim was banished to an agricultural farm in July
for a month for his "arrogance" and "abuse of power," the
ministry official said.
Kim Yong-Chol, who was subsequently reinstated this
month, is likely to be tempted to prove his loyalty by committing provocative
acts against the South, the official said.
"Therefore, we are keeping a close tab on the
North", he said.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency put the number of
party officials executed during Kim Jong-Un's rule at over 100.
The most notorious case was that of Kim's uncle and
onetime No 2 Jang Song-Thaek, who was executed for charges including treason
and corruption in December 2013.
In April 2015, it was reported that Kim had his
defence minister Hyon Yong-Chol summarily executed with an anti-aircraft gun.
Reports of the latest execution coincide with a
series of high-profile defections from the North.
North Korea's deputy ambassador to Britain has
defected to the South with his family, the unification ministry said earlier
Thae Yong-Ho was driven by "disgust for the
North Korean regime" and concerns for his family's future, it said.
Twelve waitresses and their manager who had been
working at a North Korea-themed restaurant in China also made headlines when
they arrived in the South in April as the largest group defection for years.
About 10 North Korean diplomats made it to the South
in the first half of this year alone, Yonhap said, quoting informed sources.