by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
North Korea has executed 15 senior officials since January, as its leader Kim Jong-un continues his reign of terror to apparently cement his authority, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service said on Wednesday.
During a closed briefing, the South’s intelligence agency told two lawmakers that two vice ministers were among the 15 officials to be executed this year. One vice forestry minister was killed in January for allegedly complaining about the North’s current reforestation policy, according to the Korea Herald. One month later, the vice minister in charge of economic planning was executed after opposing Kim’s decision to put a flower-shaped roof over a building under construction in Pyongyang.
In March, four members of the Unhasu Orchestra—the same orchestra Kim’s wife, Ri Sol-ju, previously worked for as a singer—were also executed by firing squad on espionage charges, according to Yonhap News Agency.
Lee Cheol-woo, one of the designated lawmakers for the briefing, said the intelligence agency suspects that the musicians were killed for allegedly leaking family secrets.
“Kim Jong-un is demonstrating a leadership style that absolutely does not tolerate excuses or reasons for not following through with his orders,” Shin Kyoungmin of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy told reporters, citing reports by the intelligence officials. “Those who second-guess him are executed as an example of what happens when one challenges his authority.”
Since the death of his father Kim Jong-il in 2011, Kim has frequently ordered public executions in what critics say is aimed at tightening his grip on power, as his country’s economy continues to struggle amid strict international sanctions.
In 2013, Kim shocked the world after ordering the execution of his uncle Jang Song-thaek, who was once considered the second-most powerful man in North Korea.
Featured image via Yonhap