Public executions on the rise in North Korea as Kim Jong Un worries about safety

Kim Jong Un visited the completed Ryugyong General Ophthalmic Hospital in the Munsu district of Pyongyang, according to state media this week. Kim is paranoid about his personal safety as the state continues to publicly execute citizens as a warning to the rest of the population, according to Seoul’s spy agency. Photo by KCNA

SEOUL, Oct. 20 (UPI) — The number of public executions in North Korea continues to rise under Kim Jong Un, according to Seoul’s spy agency.

Pyongyang has staged 64 public executions in the first nine months of 2016, Kyodo News agency reported on Thursday.

That figure is up from August, when the number of people publicly executed was 60, according to a source on North Korea.

Public executions are used as a means of controlling the population, as North Korea continues to require volunteer labor for state infrastructure projects.

The total count has doubled in 2016.

The changes indicate North Korea is no longer holding back despite international condemnations of its human rights record. Policy shifts may have occurred after the United Nations Security Council imposed tougher sanctions in March, according to Seoul intelligence.

Kim is also becoming more paranoid as elite defections have increased.

The North Korean leader is worried about his personal security and is wary of potential explosives, poison and assassination attempts, according to the National Intelligence Service.

During the closed-door briefing with South Korean parliamentarians, South Korean intelligence officials said the concerns stem from increased instability within North Korea’s political establishment, local news service Newsis reported.

The political crisis is taking root within the elite, which has been experiencing financial difficulties due to international sanctions. Restaurant outings, for example, have declined even though food prices have gone down, according to South Korean parliamentarian Kim Byeong-ki.

Kim Jong Un’s personal slush fund Room or Office 39 has been hit hard by sanctions and is running out of money, though North Korea’s expensive weapons program is also to blame, Kim added.

North Korea’s impoverished economy has not benefited from Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile development.

North Korea recently spent $200 million on nuclear and missile provocations, $100 million on the Seventh Party Congress in May and $160 million on construction, none of which have had a positive effect on the fragile economy, Seoul said.


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