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North Korean vice premier executed for 'disrespectful sitting position': Seoul

South Korean conservative protesters burn an effigy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un during a protest. Photograph: (Getty)

Agencies New Delhi, India Aug 31, 2016, 08.29 AM (IST) Daniele Pagani
South Korean unification ministry spokesperson Jeong Joon-Hee today announced at a regular briefing that North Korea's vice premier for education Kim Yong-Jin had been executed.

His fault: a disrespectful sitting position during a session of North Korean parliament held by the country's dictator Kim Jong-Un.

"Kim Yong-Jin was denounced for his bad sitting posture when he was sitting below the rostrum," and then underwent an interrogation that revealed his other crimes, an anonymous source within the South Korean unification ministry told AFP.

The vice premier was executed by a firing squad in July as "an anti-party, anti-revolutionary agitator", added the anonymous source.

According to the South Korean unification ministry, two other officials came under Kim Jon-Un's scanner and have been sent for 're-education' sessions.

One of them is Kim Yong-Chol, a top official in charge of inter-Korean affairs and espionage activities who is believed to be the mastermind behind the North Korean cyber attacks against the South.
 
High-profile executions are not new to dictator Kim Jong-Un. Since the beginning of his regime, in 2011, he is believed to have ordered the elimination of many senior politicians.

Kim Yong-Chol was banished to an agricultural farm in July for a month for his "arrogance" and "abuse of power," informed the South Korean Unification Ministry official.

What happened during this period is not clear. 

He has now been reinstated, but he might be forced to prove his loyalties towards North Korea through actions against South Korea.

"Therefore, we are keeping a close tab on the North", said the South Korean official.

High-profile executions are not new to dictator Kim Jong-Un. Since the beginning of his regime, in 2011, he is believed to have ordered the elimination of many senior politicians.

According to South Korea's Yonhap news agency, the number of party officials executed is close to a hundred.  

Analysts say that it is an attempt to keep full control over the country's institutions.

All these news must be taken with a pinch of salt, or maybe two. North Korea is a silent country, it never replies officially to the many accusations regularly moved against it. There are no free journalists and the country's media is completely in the hands of the government, making it almost impossible to verify facts on the spot and gather first-hand news.

Such is the difficulty in getting exact news that the mass-selling South Korean media 'JoongAng Ilbo', for instance, identified the education vice premier by a different name when first reporting the news. 

Information regarding North Korea mainly reaches public domain through South Korean intelligence reports, a country that has every political and strategic interest in portraying the neighbouring country as a sort of “hell on earth”.

International media and agencies often grope in the dark, relying on anonymous sources, mainly South Korean.

This makes North Korean news coverage prone to mistakes, like the recent case of Gen Ri Yong Gil. South Korean intelligence claimed that he had been executed earlier this year, but he appeared pretty much alive during a congress event held in North Korea' s capital city of Pyongyang in May.

What is probably more verifiable is the recent series of high-profile individuals who left North Korea.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency claimed that 'informed sources' told them that 10 North Korean diplomats fled their country in the first half of 2016 alone.

North Korea's deputy ambassador Thae Yong-Ho to Britain has defected to the South with his family, said South Korean unification ministry, who did not miss the opportunity to state that he did so because of his "disgust for the North Korean regime".

(With inputs from agencies)
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