by Olivia Hill
North Korea executed its top education official, Kim Yong-Jin, by firing squad according to reports from South Korean government officials. The North Korean State Security Department interrogated Kim after he sat with improper posture during a public parliament meeting; this interrogation revealed Kim’s other “crimes,” leading to the accusation that Kim was “an anti-party, anti-revolutionary agitator.”
This is the third in a series of punishments said to be ordered by Kim Jong-Un, the leader of North Korea. Jeong Joon-hee, spokesman for South Korea’s unification ministry, said that the country has punished and forced two other senior officials to undergo re-education sessions; however, they have escaped execution.
One of the officials is Kim Yong-chol, the head of North Korea’s United Front Department which is responsible for inter-Korean affairs and intelligence operations against South Korea. Kim is widely believed to be in charge of cyber-attacks against Seoul, the capital of South Korea. He was sent to a farm in July to perform hard labor for a month as penalty for his “arrogance” and “an overbearing manner and forceful push to strengthening authority into [the Worker’s] Party’s United Front Department;” Kim is expected to return to his job.
Choe Hwi, a senior official in the Propaganda and Agitation Department in the Worker’s Party, has also been sent to a rural area to undergo re-education training. The reason for Choe’s punishment is unknown, but he is also expected to return to his post.
Kim Yong-Jin is the third high-ranking official to be executed by Kim Jong-Un according to recent reports. Hyon Yong Choi was publicly killed with an anti-aircraft gun in May 2015 for “dozing off” during a meeting and failing to “carry out Kim’s instructions.” Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong-Un’s uncle, was executed in 2013 after he was accused of planning to overthrow the government. Jang was considered the second most powerful man in North Korea and was instrumental in helping Kim rise to power after the death of Kim Jong-Il, Kim Jong-Un’s father, in 2011.
South Korea’s reports have not been verified. In the past, reports of North Korean political executions have proved inaccurate.
(Sources: CNN, Aljazeera)