NORTH KOREA used anti-aircraft guns to execute five senior security officials after they allegedly made false reports that left the regime’s supreme leader “enraged”, South Korea’s spy agency said earlier this week.
An Associated Press (via Bloomberg) report citing South Korean lawmaker Lee Cheol Woo said the south’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) told lawmakers that the five officials were from the department of recently purged state security chief Kim Won Hong.
The NIS did not, however, reveal how it obtained the information, and the nature of the false reports allegedly made by the officials were unclear.
Earlier this month, Seoul said North Korea fired Won Hong in January over corruption, abuse of power and torture allegedly committed by his agency. A report in Japan Times said he was dismissed as a result of an inspection.
The department Won Hong led was tasked with “monitoring the movement of citizens, detecting spies and punishing those seen as threatening the regime.”
The embattled minister was once seen as close to the supreme leader.
In 2012, he emerged as a central figure in North Korea after being appointed head of the State Security Department. He was also was known to have led the execution of Jang Song Thaek, Jong-un’s uncle, in December 2013.
North Korea has not publicly announced the senior official’s sacking or the executions in his department.
The reported incident comes as Malaysia investigates the death of Jong-un’s estranged half-brother, Kim Jong Nam.
Jong Nam, who had fallen out of favour with his family in North Korea, died on Feb 13 after he was swabbed with the VX nerve agent, a highly toxic substance categorised under international conventions as a weapon of mass distraction. It is speculated that North Korean spies had employed agents to carry out the attack at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2). Two women – a Vietnamese and an Indonesian – were on Tuesday charged with Jong Nam’s murder and face the death penalty upon conviction.
Since taking power in late 2011, Jong-un has purged or executed a large number of high-level government officials in what South Korea has called a “reign of terror.”