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Report: North Korea executes 2 officials with anti-aircraft gun

North Korea publicly executed two senior officials in August of 2016, according to reports. USA TODAY

North Korea has publicly executed two senior officials for apparently disobeying the country’s leader Kim Jong Un, according to a media report Tuesday.

South Korean newspaper the JoongAng Ilbo said that Hwang Min, a former agricultural minister, and Ri Yong-jin, who had a senior role in the education ministry, were killed with an anti-aircraft gun at a military academy in Pyongyang earlier this month, citing a source with special knowledge of North Korea.

The paper said that Ri was killed after he fell asleep during a meeting presided over by Kim. The information couldn’t be independently verified by USA TODAY.

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The source said Hwang is understood to have been executed because he pushed for policy proposals that were seen as a direct challenge to Kim’s leadership, and Ri angered Kim after he fell asleep during a meeting. Ri was arrested and questioned and was executed after offenses such as corruption were discovered, the source said, according to the JoongAng Ilbo.

The report could be seen as “a new reign of terror” in North Korea sparked by a number of defections by senior officials, the newspaper said.

Earlier this month, Thae Yong Ho, the deputy to North Korea’s ambassador to Britain, defected with his family from London to South Korea. Thae, the highest-ranking North Korean official to defect to the South, was “sick and tired” of Kim’s regime, South Korean government spokesman Jeong Joon-hee said.

In July last year, South Korean officials said Kim had executed about 70 officials since taking power in late 2011. Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said Kim’s late father Kim Jong Il executed about 10 people in his first years in power — far fewer than his son.

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