Kim Jong-un ordered the execution of two high-ranking officials by anti-aircraft gun over fears that the dictator is preparing another purge against his people.
Ri Yong Jin, a senior official at the education ministry, was sentenced to death after he fell asleep in a meeting being addressed by Kim.
After accidentally dozing off, Ri was taken into custody and interrogated where security agents found evidence of his disloyalty and disrespect towards Kim.
According to South Korean newspaper Joongang Ilbo, Hwang Min, a former agriculture minister was also sentenced to death.
Hwang’s crime, according to the South Korean media, was to have developed a number of ideas to improve agricultural production.
These ideas were seen by the regime as an attempt to undermine Kim.
Both men were executed by an anti-aircraft gun at a military academy in Pyongyang.
rarely announces purges or executions, although state media confirmed execution of Kim’s uncle and the man widely considered the second most powerful man in the country, Jang Song Thaek, in 2012 for factionalism and crimes damaging to the economy.
The North Korean regime is especially paranoid in recent weeks after a senior offiicial at the London embassy defected to South Korea along with his wife and children.
A former defence minister, Hyun Yong Chol, is also believed to have been executed last year for treason, according to the South’s spy agency.
The JoongAng Ilbo said the two men were executed by anti-aircraft gun at a military academy in Pyongyang.
Kim Jong Un
, the North Korean leader, ordered the public execution of two senior bureaucrats with an anti-aircraft gun.
South Korean media is suggesting the killings are the start of a “new reign of terror” in the aftermath of a series of recent high-profile defections.
Sources told South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo newspaper that one of the men was identified as Ri Yong Jin, an official in the Education Ministry, who made the mistake of falling asleep in a meeting with Kim.
“He incurred the wrath of Kim after he dozed off during a meeting that Kim presided over,” the newspaper quoted the source as saying.
“He was arrested on-site and intensively questioned by the State Security Ministry,” the paper claimed. “He was executed after other charges, such as corruption, were found during the probe.”
Details of those policies were not provided, although it has been confirmed that Hwang was replaced in a meeting of the North Korean parliament in late June.
The second official was named as Hwang Min, of the Agriculture Ministry, who was executed “because policy proposals he had pushed for were seen as a direct challenge to the leadership of Kim Jong Un,” the newspaper reported.
The executions were carried out with anti-aircraft guns at a military academy in Pyongyang.
Using such weapons against anyone who crosses the regime has been reported in the past, notably in April 2015, when satellite images caught an imminent execution at a military training area outside Pyongyang.
There have also been reports of the Kim clan, which has ruled North Korea
with an iron fist since 1945, using flame throwers and mortars to eliminate its opponents, although it is difficult to confirm all such claims.
The JoongAng Ilbo suggested the latest executions “may be interpreted as a new reign of terror in North Korea, prompted by a series of defections by senior officials that has rekindled talk of instability and disunity among the North Korea elite”.
Thae Yong Ho, the North Korean diplomat based in London, who defected. Photo / AP
The most serious loss to Kim’s regime was of Thae Yong Ho, deputy head of the North Korean Embassy in London, who arrived in Seoul with his wife and three children after fleeing the embassy in July.
There are additional reports that at least seven North Korean diplomats have fled overseas missions this year alone, including the third secretary at the embassy in Moscow.