North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has demoted one of his top military officials over a policy concerning the country's youth as well as for his role in the collapse of a water tunnel at a power station that he was in charge of, South Korea's spy agency told lawmakers Tuesday. Choe Ryong Hae was reportedly banished and sent to a rural farm for reeducation.
The office of South Korean lawmaker Shin Kyung-min said that the information was revealed by the National Intelligence Service in a closed-door briefing for members of the legislature's intelligence committee, according to the Associated Press (AP). If confirmed, Choe’s demotion would be the latest in a series of executions, purges and dismissals that Kim has orchestrated since taking over power in late 2011.
Shin's office quoted the NIS as saying that Choe was reportedly responsible for the construction of the power station in North Korea's northeastern Ryanggang province. The NIS also revealed that Choe and Kim were at odds over the leader’s youth-related policies.
However, it was unclear how NIS had obtained the information, AP reported.
Choe was the top political officer in the Korean People's Army and held other top posts. He was once North Korea's second most powerful official after the 2013 execution of Kim's uncle, Jang Song Thaek. In 2014, Choe’s post was reportedly given to Hwang Pyong So, who is now considered to be North Korea’s No. 2 official.
Last week, reports surfaced that North Korea executed three women for circulating a South Korean television drama.
A report in July said that North Korea has executed 1,382 people over the last 15 years under the leadership of Kim Jong Un. North Korea has said earlier that it executes prisoners only in extreme cases.