A North Korean official with ties to Kim Jong-un’s purged uncle Jang Song-taek has been executed by flamethrower, the South Korean media is reporting.
According to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper, deputy minister at the Ministry of Public Security O Sang-hon received the unorthodox execution for his connection to the leader’s uncle. Sang-hon was targeted because of his status as a high-ranking official of the department which Song-taek used to head.
The reports of O Sang-hon’s execution have not been confirmed, although sources speculate that at least 11 senior party officials have already been executed or sent to political prison camps for their relationships with Kim Jong-un’s uncle. The execution of Sang-hon was allegedly carried out because the man had "turned the ministry into Jang's protection squad."
Although South Korea’s democratic state is certainly more open and more analogous to that of the U.S., the country’s reports on North Korean activity cannot be completely trusted without verification. The country's media falsely reported the execution of ambassador to Malaysia and Song-taek's nephew Jang Yong-chol, who was spared his life after North Korean officials discovered the report.
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North and South Korea are still entangled in an ongoing war that continues to have occasional flare-ups, and that undoubtedly leads to some bias in the media. Just last week, both sides exchanged fire in a contested maritime border.
Regardless, Kim Jung-un has undoubtedly been carrying out an extended purge of those connected to his uncle, and this new, unorthodox method of execution would be unsurprising. The Telegraph reports that the continued purges have caused a feeling of instability in both Seoul and Pyongyang about Kim Jong-un's future actions.