North Korea publicly executed two top officials earlier this month with anti-aircraft guns on the personal order of supreme leader Kim Jong Un, a South Korean newspaper reported Tuesday.
Citing an unidentified source with knowledge of the North, the JoongAng Ilbo daily named the victims as Hwang Min, a former agriculture minister, and Ri Yong Jin, a senior official with the Education Ministry.
According to the report, the executions were carried out on the “special order” of Kim himself.
The daily quoted the source as saying Hwang was executed over a policy proposal that represented a direct challenge to the Kim regime. The report did not elaborate on the proposal. Ri’s fate was reportedly sealed after he fell asleep during a meeting presided over by Kim. The report said he was arrested on site and later executed after a probe uncovered corruption and other malfeasance. Both were killed at a military academy in Pyongyang, the source said, adding that an anti-aircraft gun was used in the executions.
The report could not be independently verified. The North rarely publicly acknowledges executions or purges, and prior media reports of leading officials’ executions in the reclusive state have proven to be false.
In December 2013, however, Pyongyang publicly announced perhaps its most high-profile execution, that of Kim’s uncle and key adviser, Jang Song Thaek.
Kim’s former defense chief, Ri Yong Gil, was reported by the Yonhap news agency in February to have been executed, although his name was seen in May on a list of officials selected for senior posts at the Workers’ Party Congress that month.
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