North Korean despot Kim Jong-un allegedly executes former key minister as clampdown continues

Image of Kim Jong Un. Credit: Wikipedia - By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89442959

Ri Yong-ho, one of North Korea’s former key diplomats has reportedly been executed by the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

 

North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, has allegedly had one of his former top ministers executed, according to a report today, Friday, January 6, by the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun. Unnamed sources of the news outlet claimed that 66-year-old Ri Yong-ho had apparently been ‘purged’ last year.

The diplomat was the former North Korean ambassador to Britain between 2003 and 2007. He also helped to negotiate his country’s nuclear deals with the U.S. His alleged death comes amid a ramping up of war drills by the Kim administration, said The Sun today, Friday, January 6.

His removal from office was confirmed to South Korea’s parliament by MP Youn Kun-young. He claimed that while the National Intelligence Service confirmed that the diplomat had been ‘purged’, but that ‘whether he was executed remains unclear’.

If the claim is true then it makes Ri Yong-ho the highest-profile figure to have been killed by the North Korean leader in many years. Reasons for being removed from positions under the Kim regime are rarely necessary but Ri could be the victim of poor job performance or what appear to be ongoing internal power struggles.

The diplomat who landed the position of Foreign Minister in 2016 was famous for heated clashes with his U.S. counterparts. During one memorable speech in 2017, Ri labelled then-President Trump as ‘President Evil’, and ‘Lying King’ while addressing the UN general assembly.

This coming Sunday 8, Kim Jong-un celebrates his 39th birthday. He has been North Korea’s supreme leader since 2011 and many experts believe that amid rumours of bad health, he could be clearing the way for his sister and daughter to replace him and take power.

“We don’t know exactly what happened to former foreign minister Ri Yong-ho, but he was likely purged from any position of influence some time ago”, Leif-Eric Easley told The Times recently. The professor of international studies at Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul said he believed that personal loyalty and regime cohesion were more important to the despot than bureaucrats.

“If he were actually executed, that would be a bad sign for the North Korean foreign ministry and prospects for diplomacy”, he added. Only this week, Kim Jong-un allegedly fired Pak Jong Chon, the country’s second-most powerful military official.

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Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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