Kim Jong-un orders 'execution' of North Korean vice premier Choe Yong-gon over 'policy dispute'

South Korean reports say row began over forestation

Adam Withnall
Wednesday 12 August 2015 15:05
Comments
File photo taken on 12 July, 2005 shows Choe Yong-Gon, North Korea's deputy minister of construction and building material industries
File photo taken on 12 July, 2005 shows Choe Yong-Gon, North Korea's deputy minister of construction and building material industries

North Korea’s vice premier has been executed on the orders of Kim Jong-un following a disagreement over policy, according to reports from South Korea.

The unconfirmed reports would make Choe Yong-gon one of the most senior among around 70 high-ranking officials killed or disappeared since Kim came to power in 2011.

South Korea’s government has said it is monitoring the story, first reported by the Yonhap news agency which quoted spy agency sources.

The government’s unification ministry told the BBC that Choe was last seen in public in December 2014, and that it was investigating “the possibility of any changes in [his] circumstances”.

Yonhap reported that the execution was carried out by “shooting” in May, after Choe “had expressed discomfort against the young leader’s forestation policy”. It carried no other details.

Choe had represented North Korea in trade talks with the South in the mid-2000s, and was deputy minister for the construction industry.

High-profile purges have become characteristic of Kim’s brutal regime, though they are almost never confirmed by the country’s own government.

Last month, South Korea’s Institute for National Unification said that in the years since Kim took power following his father's death, 21 people were executed in 2012 and 82 people were executed in 2013.

The most high profile execution came in late 2013, when Kim reportedly ordered the execution of his own uncle Jang Song-thaek.

In total, the report said North Korea publically executed nearly 1,400 people between 2000 and 2013, peaking at 161 under Kim Jong-Il in 2008.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in