North Korea Executes Top Officials With Anti-Aircraft Gun

Mark Shiffer

North Korea has executed top officials using an anti-aircraft gun, sources told a South Korean newspaper. According to the same source, two government officials were killed, one from the agricultural ministry and the other from education. They were specifically ordered to be violently executed by dictator Kim Jong Un.

The other executed man was Ri Yong-Jin. His transgression was that he is said to have dozed off during one of Kim Jong Un's speeches. More than 70 government authorities are estimated to have been executed since Kim took over.

The latest killings are the first ordered by Kim from outside the party or military. A spokesman for the South Korean Unification Ministry said he couldn't immediately confirm that the killings took place. There have been various types of execution, from firing squads to being mauled by dogs. This is not the first report of anti-aircraft guns being used to kill prisoners. In 2015, the country's defense minister was reportedly also removed by the weapon because he fell asleep during a meeting involving Kim.

Some analysts speculate that the latest reign of terror may have started due to an increasing number of defections to South Korea, reports USA Today. In early August the deputy to North Korea's ambassador in Britain fled with his family to South Korea. It was the highest-ranking defection in recent history.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye said the recent defections represent a 'serious fracture' that is developing within the North Korean regime. She warned that more provocations from the North may occur as Kim Jong Un tries to maintain tight control of the country. Currently, American and South Korean military forces are conducting annual drills that have been condemned by the North.

Other analysts say that North Korean executions and defections are not necessarily signs of trouble and that the isolated country is more stable than many may believe. Robert Kelly, a political science professor, says that as long as China continues to back the regime, the elites in North Korea will continue to remain loyal to Kim, the National Post reports.

Kelly attributes the killings by anti-aircraft gun as part of Kim's ongoing attempts to purge the North Korean old guard with more loyal supporters. It's a totalitarian style of promotion and demotions, says Kelly.

North Korea is currently facing tough economic sanctions from most of the world. On March 2, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution imposing what is being called the toughest sanctions ever brough upon the so-called Hermit Kingdom. The main goal of the resolution was to stop North Korea's nuclear program. However, China continues to supply and trade with its secretive ally.

The North Korean executions and other forms of repressive rule have been a staple since the founding of the People's Democratic People's Republic of Korea in 1945. Kim Sung-Il was Kim Jong Un's grandfather and the first leader of the regime. His father Kim Jong-Il, also ruled the nation until 2011. North and South Korea are technically still in a state of war and have been since the end of the Korean war in 1953.

Photo by David Guttenfelder/AP