Kim Jong Un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiles with military officers as he observes a military drill at an unknown location in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency, March 25, 2016. Reuters/KCNA

North Korea publicly executed two officials in early August for disobeying leader Kim Jong Un, a South Korean newspaper reported Tuesday. Former agriculture minister Hwang Min and Ri Yong Jin, a senior official at the education ministry, have been executed, the JoongAng Ilbo daily reported citing a source.

The report of the execution, however, could not be verified as South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles North Korea-related matters, has released no confirmation of the news.

According to JoongAng Ilbo daily, Hwang was killed because his policy proposals were seen as a challenge to Kim, Reuters reported. The South Korean newspaper also stated that Ro was caught nodding off during a meeting with Kim and was later accused of corruption and showing disrespect to the leader. The newspaper reported that the two men were executed by anti-aircraft gun at a military academy in Pyongyang.

North Korea has seen a series of high-level purges under the rule of the young leader, who took power in 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. However, several reports of purges and executions in the past have later proved inaccurate.

The report of the executions comes after Seoul said North Korea's deputy ambassador in London had defected and arrived in the South with his family.

While news about executions in Pyongyang rarely are made public, state media confirmed the news of the execution of Kim's uncle Jang Song Thaek, in 2012 for factionalism and crimes damaging to the economy of the reclusive country.

Last year, the South's spy agency also revealed that a former defense minister, Hyun Yong Chol, was executed for treason.