North Korea’s vice premier Choe Yong-Gon has been executed for voicing frustration at the policies of leader Kim Jong-Un, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency says.
Choe, who took the job in June 2014, was executed by firing squad in May after voicing opposition to forestry policies promoted by Kim, Yonhap said, citing an anonymous source “with knowledge of the North”.
The vice premier has not been mentioned in the North’s state media since last October, it added, in another apparent sign he had been purged.
The execution of the 63-year-old former delegate for North-South cooperation marks another death of a senior official in a series of high-level purges since Kim Jong-Un took charge in late 2011.
Choe’s death, if confirmed, would be the second reported this year.
Defense minister Hyon Yong-Chol was said to have been executed in April by anti-aircraft fire for insubordination and dozing off during formal military rallies.
South Korea’s unification ministry, which handles the country’s ties with North Korea, said Choe had not been spotted in public for about eight months and that it was closely monitoring the situation.
Choe had worked on inter-Korean affairs in the 2000s, leading the North’s delegation in joint economic cooperation committees with South Korea between 2003 and 2005.
He attended the 2004 opening ceremony of the Kaesong industrial complex, a factory park run by the North with Seoul that is the last remaining joint project of the two countries.
Seoul resumes propaganda war
South Korea Monday ordered border propaganda operations against North Korea to resume for the first time in 11 years, in retaliation for landmine blasts that maimed two of its soldiers during a frontier patrol.
The defense ministry said banks of loudspeakers positioned at various spots along the border would be switched on for the first time since 2004 and used to blast out messages denouncing North Korean provocations.
The move will infuriate North Korea and likely trigger a surge in cross-border tensions at a time of already severely strained relations between Seoul and Pyongyang.
The order came hours after Seoul vowed Pyongyang would pay a “harsh price” for allegedly planting the landmines that detonated last Tuesday in the South Korean half of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) — a buffer area flanking both sides of the inter-Korean frontier.
One soldier injured in the blasts underwent a double leg amputation, while another had one leg removed.