Monday 25 September 2017

Kim Jong Un fires 'close colleague' and security chief in latest purge

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Photo: Kyodo/via REUTERS
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Photo: Kyodo/via REUTERS
Mr Yun said the latest tests showed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was unlikely to change course and tougher sanctions were needed to apply “unbearable pain on the North to leave no choice but to change”. Photo credit: Kyodo/via REUTERS
Kim Jong Un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives guidance during his visit to Samjiyon County in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 28, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is hugged by children during his visit to Samjiyon County in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 28, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is hugged by children during his visit to Samjiyon County in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 28, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives guidance during his visit to various fields of Samjiyon County in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 28, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his visit to Samjiyon County in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 28, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits Samjiyon County in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 28, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with his wife Ri Sol-ju at an event in Pyongyang in March, 2014. Photo: Reuters
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

North Korea's state security minister was sacked last month, presumably over corruption, abuse of power and torture committed by his agency, Seoul has said.

South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon Hee said the sacking of Kim Won Hong, who had been seen as a close colleague to leader Kim Jong Un, might cause instability in the country's leadership by frightening the ruling elite.

He said there is a possibility that the minister will face stronger punishment as the investigation into his actions continues.

North Korea has not said anything about Kim Wong Hong, and Mr Jeong did not say how the South's government obtained the information.

Kim Jong Un
Kim Jong Un

South Korea has a patchy record of tracking developments in North Korea as information about the secretive, authoritarian state is often impossible to confirm.

Since taking power in late 2011, Kim Jong Un has executed or purged a series of high-level government officials in what the South Korean government has described as a "reign of terror".

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is hugged by children during his visit to Samjiyon County in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 28, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is hugged by children during his visit to Samjiyon County in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 28, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA

It is not clear if Kim Won Hong's alleged sacking means he has been permanently removed from North Korea's leadership circle.

Choe Ryong Hae, a close aide to Kim Jong Un, was believed to have been briefly banished to a rural collective farm for re-education in 2015, but he regained his political standing at a rare congress of the North's ruling Workers' Party last year.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives guidance during his visit to various fields of Samjiyon County in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 28, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives guidance during his visit to various fields of Samjiyon County in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 28, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA

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