North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has reportedly returned from a leg operation after a lengthy break from public view, has executed 10 senior officials from the country's Workers' Party on charges of graft and for watching South Korean soap operas, a report said Wednesday, citing a South Korean official.
According to Lim Dae Sung, a secretary to lawmaker Lee Cheol Woo of South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party, the deaths by shooting are part of Kim’s attempts to consolidate power by eliminating those loyal to his uncle Jang Song Thaek, a senior military general, whom he had ordered to be executed in December. However, Lim did not disclose the identities of the dead officials and did not say when the executions took place, Bloomberg reported.
“Kim Jong Un is trying to establish absolute power and strengthen his regime with public punishments,” Yang Moo Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, in Seoul, told Bloomberg. “However, frequent purges can create side effects.”
Lim, who attended a briefing at the National Intelligence Service in Seoul on Tuesday, said that North Korea has expanded its prison camps and increased public executions over the last few months.
The 31-year-old leader, who took over the 24 million-strong country after the death of his father Kim Jong Il in December 2011, removed chief of general staff Ri Yong Ho from his post in July 2012. Kim also demoted an army commander, blaming him for the low accuracy rate of the country’s weaponry, Bloomberg reported, citing Lim.
Kim, whose absence from public view fueled several rumors about North Korea’s future, is said to have undergone an operation to remove a cyst from his right ankle in September when a foreign doctor was invited to perform the surgery. He reportedly returned to public view on Oct. 14 with a cane.