North Korea executes vice premier for ‘disrespect’

The mass-selling JoongAng Ilbo reported that the vice premier was punished for dozing off during a meeting presided over by leader Kim Jong-un.

SEOUL // North Korea has executed a vice premier for showing disrespect during a meeting presided over by leader Kim Jong-un, South Korea said on Wednesday, following media reports that he dozed off during a meeting.

The regime also banished two other senior officials, Seoul said.

It was the latest in a slew of punishments Mr Kim is believed to have ordered 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 spokesman 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 other “crimes”, the official said.

The mass-selling JoongAng Ilbo reported on Tuesday that top regime 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,” it quoted a source as saying.

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 on Seoul.

Kim was banished to a farm in July for a month for his “arrogance” and “abuse of power”, the ministry official said.

The spymaster, who was 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 close tabs 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 Mr Kim’s uncle and onetime second-in-command Jang Song-thaek, who was executed for charges including treason and corruption in December 2013.

In April 2015, it was reported that Mr Kim had his defence minister Hyon Yong-chol summarily executed with an anti-aircraft gun.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: August 31, 2016 04:00 AM

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