According to a South Korean government official, North Korea has executed top education official Kim Yong Jin by firing squad.
The State Security Department branded him “anti-party and a counter-revolutionary member” after he showed a “bad attitude” at the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly in June. This report was confirmed by Jeong Joon Hee, South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesperson, during a press conference that was held to address the media’s reports of a public execution of a senior-level North Korean official.
However, Jeong did not disclose any more information on why and when South Korea believes he was executed, nor how his ministry got the information, reports the Associated Press. Some previous reports coming from the tightly-controlled nation have been inaccurate, writes Nicole Hensley of the New York Daily News. For example, reports surfaced of a North Korean military chief that had supposedly been executed in May instead getting promoted.
One South Korean government official told Ju-min Park of Reuters that he was executed for not keeping his posture straight at a public event. Most likely, it was meant to send a message to others within the government.
The former education minister took over his post as vice premier in 2012.
63-year-old Kim Yong Jin was last seen via North Korea’s state news agency on June 15th when he attended an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the nation’s taekwondo foundation.
Kim Yong Chol, who serves as the head of North Korea’s United Front Department, received hard labor or “revolutionary punishment” at a rural farm between mid-July and mid-August. When he returns to his post, he will once again be in charge of the governing body which manages dialogue and policies with South Korea. He was accused of abuses of power, including “an overbearing manner and forceful push to strengthening authority into the Party’s United Front Department.”
Choe Hwi, who is a senior official with the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Worker’s Party, is also undergoing “revolutionary re-education.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who took power in 2011, often uses executions as a political tool to strengthen his hold on the nation.
In May 2015, the country’s defense minister Hyon Yong Chol was accused of treason and executed by an anti-aircraft gun. Two years before that, Kim executed his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, after accusing him of treason.
North and South Korea have shared the world’s most heavily fortified border since the end of the Korean War in 1953.