- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 13, 2015

A North Korean official official who objected against leader Kim Jong-un’s forestation policies was reportedly executed by firing squad in May.

According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, sources said the executed official was Vice Premier Choe Yong-gon, 63, who has not been seen in public since December, Fox News reported. He held the post since June 2014.

Due to the secretive nature of the North Korean government, it is not clear whether the vice premier was actually executed, but the South Korean government continues to monitor the reports.

The execution is the latest in a string of reports of gruesome killings ordered by the North Korean leader.

In January 2014, The Singaporean Straits Times reported Mr. Kim had stripped and fed his uncle and five close associates to 120 starving dogs.

Experts believe the dictator uses these “purges” to keep the military old guard in check, as they are the only power that poses a plausible threat to his rule.

Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Dongguk University in Seoul, said in May that Mr. Kim could be pushing a “reign of terror” to solidify his leadership, but those efforts would fail if he doesn’t improve the country’s crumbling economy, Fox reported.

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