North Korea executes vice premier, says Seoul | News | DW | 31.08.2016
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North Korea executes vice premier, says Seoul

South Korea has announced that Pyongyang executed a top education official. Local media reported that two government officials had been executed by anti-aircraft gun in North Korea's capital.

North Korea executed the country's vice premier of education, South Korea's Unification Ministry announced on Wednesday.

"Vice premier for education Kim Yong Jin was executed," said Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon Hee at a press briefing in Seoul.

The ministry's announcement comes a day after South Korea's "JoongAng Ilbo" newspaper reported that Pyongyang had two officials, including former Agriculture Minister Hwang Min, executed by anti-aircraft gun at a military academy in the nation's capital.

The newspaper said that the education ministry official was caught nodding off during a meeting with the country's leader Kim Jong Un, adding that North Korean authorities launched an investigation after the incident into charges of disrespecting the leader.

Meanwhile, the country's influential head of the United Front Department charged with handling inter-Korean relations was made to undergo "revolutionary measures" and consequently banished to a rural area for re-education, the ministry said.

North Korea has witnessed a surge in executions and purges as Kim consolidates power in the wake of his father's death in 2011.

Most notably, Kim's uncle Jang Song Thaek was executed in 2013 for factionalism and crimes considered damaging to the economy. He was widely seen as the country's second most powerful man.

Pyongyang has rarely confirmed the execution of its officials, although state media reported on the death of Kim's uncle. A former defense minister is also believed to have been executed for treason, according to Seoul.

ls/gsw (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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