South Korea's spy agency has briefed legislators on alleged purges ordered by Kim Jong Un in the isolated North. The executions have been carried out against those who questioned Kim's policies, the agency said.
Fifteen high-ranking officials have been executed by Pyongyang so far this year, Seoul's Yonhap News Agency reported on Wednesday, citing legislators briefed by South Korea's spy agency.
Lawmaker Shin Kyoung Min said that the senior officials were accused of undermining the authority of North Korea's young dictator Kim Jong Un. One of the condemned was the deputy forestry minister, who allegedly questioned Kim's forestation plans. According to Shin, an official of a similar rank was executed for resisting the ruler's wish to construct a building in the shape of a flower.
Kim to make first trip overseas
Shin said the head of the National Intelligence Service, which led the meeting, declined to reveal how the information was obtained, but confirmed that Kim was likely to attend Victory Day celebrations in Moscow. This would be Kim's first trip abroad since taking power.
The lawmaker also told the press that the spy agency believed Pyongyang had used a firing squad in March to execute members of the famous Unhasu Orchestra on charges of espionage.
Since coming to power after the death of his father Kim Jong Il in 2011, Kim Jong Un has overseen a number of purges in an attempt to clear out the old guard and solidify his hold on power. In 2013 he executed his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, considered the second most powerful man in North Korea. Jang had been accused of treason.
es/lw (AP, dpa)