A North Korean army minister was reportedly executed with a mortar round for drinking and carousing during the official mourning period after the death of Kim Jong-il.
Kim Chol, the vice-minister of the army, was taken into custody earlier this year on the orders of Kim Jong-un, who assumed the leadership after his father died in December. On the orders of Mr Kim to leave “no trace of him behind, down to his hair”, Kim Chol was forced to stand on a spot that had been zeroed in for a mortar round and was “obliterated”, South Korean media reported.
The execution is just one example of a purge of members of the North Korean military or party who threatened the fledgling regime of Mr Kim.
So far this year, 14 senior officials have fallen victim to the purges, according to intelligence data provided to Yoon Sang-hyun, a member of the South Korean foreign affairs, trade and unification committee.
Those that have fallen from favour include Ri Yong-ho, the head of the army, and Ri Kwang-gon, the governor of the North Korean central bank.
Analysts suggest Mr Kim is acting to consolidate his power base and deter any criticism of his youthfulness and inexperience. He is believed to be either 28 or 29.
“When Kim Jong-un became North Korean leader following the mourning period for his father in late December, high-ranking military officers started disappearing,” a source told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
“From information compiled over the last month, we have concluded that dozens of military officers were purged.”
It also appears that Mr Kim told officials to use the excuse of misbehaviour during the mourning period to remove any potential opponents.
Other officials have been executed by firing squads.
No one is safe when freedom fails. The good men rot in filthy jails. And those who cried “Appease, appease!” explode for those they tried to please.