North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un was "very drunk" when he ordered the execution of two aides close to his purged uncle, according to Japanese newspaper reports.
The young leader ordered the execution of two aides after they reportedly failed to respond immediately to a request to hand over a profitable business to the military.
The two aides were close to Jang Song-thaek, Kim's uncle, who only weeks later was dramatically stripped of his powerful posts and executed in an effort by the leader to consolidate his grip on power.
The failure of Ri Ryong-ha, the first deputy director of the administrative department of the state's ruling Workers' Party, and Jang Su-gil, a deputy director in the same department, to respond quickly to his order reportedly left Kim "upset".
They were believed to be among at least eight aides from Jang's circle who were believed to have been executed in the run-up to his own execution this month, the Yomiuri Shimbun added.
As a result, the purging of Jang was reportedly predicted by the South Korean government, which apparently learnt of the executions of his aides via wiretapping conversations.
"Those who were close [to the two aides] were surprised by their execution, and made phone calls to their friends living abroad, and the South Korean government [spy agency] wiretapped their phone conversations," the newspaper said. "The South Korean government then concluded that the purge of Jang Song-thaek was inevitable, based on the testimony of people involved with the case." (©Daily Telegraph, London)