SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Elizabeth Shim) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un executed Vice Premier Choe Yong Gon by firing squad in May, less than a year after Kim appointed Choe to the high-ranking position.
An unidentified source on North Korea affairs said Choe, a 63-year-old veteran politician who traveled to South Korea in 2005, was killed for expressing frustration over Kim’s forestation policies and for not achieving the expected results in other state projects, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
Choe was last seen in December at the third anniversary of Kim Jong Il‘s death but disappeared from the public eye soon after – prompting rumors of a demotion, South Korean television network KBS reported.
Choe played a pivotal role in North-South relations, and was the chief delegate of an inter-Korea economic cooperation meeting in June 2005. During the exchange, Seoul and Pyongyang approved a 12-point document that could improve trade between the two sides.
In 2006, Choe said in an interview with a North Korean magazine that he envisioned the Kaesong Industrial Complex as a future hub of inter-Korea logistics.
Kim appointed Choe to the vice premier position on June 19, 2014, and Choe worked on several regional projects related to farms and an iron fence factory.
The source on North Korea affairs said in addition to Choe, Kim Kun Sop, the vice chief of the Korean Workers’ Party’s organization bureau also was executed by firing squad.
Kim Kun Sop was found guilty of corruption by Minister of State Security Kim Won Hong and was executed alongside other regional officers, according to the source.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service has said North Korea has executed up to 70 people since Kim Jong Un fully assumed power in 2012.
Seoul’s spy agency has said Kim executed Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol for complaints about his leadership and according to South Korean analyst Chung Sung-jang the current leader should be regarded as more dangerous than his father Kim Jong Il.