North Korea’s vice-premier has reportedly been executed by firing squad after voicing discontent with the forestry policies of Kim Jong-un, the country’s young dictator. Choe Yong-gon, 63, was killed after less than a year in his job, South Korean media reported, the latest casualty in a series of high-level purges within the isolated communist nation.
North Korean has not officially confirmed the execution, reported to have taken place in May, but Mr Choe has not been seen in public since December and Pyongyang announced his replacement in July.
Reports of Mr Choe’s death come close on the heels of the execution of Hyon Yong-chol, the defense minister, who was said to have been killed in front of a large crowd of government officials as a way of setting an example to Mr Kim’s other subordinates.
Mr Choe is reported to have taken office in June last year. He once led the North Korean delegation in economic co-operation talks with South Korea. He was also a former member of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the North Korean parliament. South Korea’s ministry of unification, which is responsible for relations with its neighbor, said it was “closely monitoring the possibility of any changes in Choe’s circumstances”.
The dictator’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, was killed in 2013 after being described as “despicable human scum” by state media and charged with treason and corruption. Unlike other purges, which happen in secret, Mr Jang’s death was publicly trumpeted by the North Korean regime, which accused him of having “perpetrated thrice-cursed acts of treachery”.
[The Daily Telegraph]