North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged half brother, Kim Jong Nam has been reportedly killed at the Malaysian airport on Tuesday. Two different versions of the murder were reported. One claimed he was suffocated to death by a woman carrying a cloth laced with some form of lethal liquid; the other says he was pricked by poisoned needles. While the motive behind the murder is still being investigated, Kim Jong Un’s role in the plot is being suspected.
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The number of executions that have taken place in North Korea since Kim Jong Un came to power in 2011 is astounding, and the fact that he might be in some way involved in the assassination of his half brother cannot be completely ruled out. In the past 6 years, the North Korean terror is known to eliminate military and bureaucratic officials in his government for flimsy reasons like policy disagreements or lack of decorum during official meetings.
National Security Strategy, which is a South Korean think tank, released a report in December 2016 stating that in the past 6 years, 340 people in North Korea have been executed by the dictactor. Out of these, about 140 were senior officers in his government.
Following are some of the most bizarre cases of executions carried out by Kim Jong Un during his term.
Defense minister Hyon Yong-chol (April 2015)
In April 2015, the defense minister Hyon Yong Chol had angered the North Korean dictator when he was found dozing off during a meeting. As a punishment for his improper conduct, the 66-year old man was executed by anti-aircraft guns in front of hundreds of spectators at a military academy near Pyongyang. Reports also suggest the defense minister had incurred the wrath of the leader, because he disagreed with him on several policy decisions.
Vice premier Kim Yong Jin (August 2016)
The Vice premier for education was executed in 2016 for being an “anti-party and a counter-revolutionary member.” However a South Korean official also reported the official was executed for his bad sitting posture during a parliamentary session. He was later put through an aggressive interrogation during and sentenced to death. He was reportedly killed by a firing squad.
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Kim’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek (December 2013)
Apart from being Kim’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek was also a leading figure in the government of North Korea. During the last days of the previous leader Kim Jong il, it was Jang Song Thaek who managed the government. However, on December 2013, he was brutally executed by Kim Jong Un for being a counter-revolutionary.
He was first stripped of all his posts and removed from the Workers Party of Korea before being executed, reportedly by anti-aircraft guns. Soon after his death, a report on a Chinese newspaper noted that Jang was fed to 120 hungry dogs. The report was later debunked as a mere rumour. The execution of Jang though, was perhaps the most crucial among the purges carried out by the North Korean leader.
Vice premier Choe Yong-gon (May 2015)
Vice premier Choe Yong-gon was put through execution in 2015 for having expressed discomfort with the forestation policy of Kim Yong Un. Reports of the execution of the vice premier had very few details. However, Choe Yong’s appointment as vice premier was seen by analysts as a sign of improving relations with the South.
Officials executed for watching South Korean TV soaps. (October 2014)
Ten members of the ruling Workers’ party were executed by a fire squad for watching South Korean TV soaps. While Kim’s father, Kim Jong Un had been able to keep the country insulated from the proliferation of South Korean mass media influences, the young dictator has found it difficult to do the same on account of the popularity of mobile phones and internet. Pirated copies of South Korean TV sops are widely available in the North Korean black market. The access to these television programmes is highly disliked by the North Korean leader, and he expressed his wrath by eliminating those found watching them.