Kim Won-hong dismissed, officials executed

Sunday 5th February, 2017

Kim Won-hong, North Korea’s Minister of State Security (the equivalent of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service), has been relieved of his duties, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Unification. It has also been reported that a number of highly ranked officials in his department have been executed.

Kim Won-hong was investigated by the Organisation and Guidance Department in mid-January, which resulted in a demotion from the rank of Captain to a one-star general, and eventually, complete dismissal.

The State Security Department is one of North Korea’s most important institutions, primarily responsible for providing security for regime control under Kim Jong Un.

In addition, the investigation also led to the execution of a number of highly ranked officials, according to an authority from the Ministry of Unification as quoted by SBS news.

Ministry of Unification spokesperson Jeong Jun-hee stated that, judging from the gravity of the investigations leading to the dismissal of Kim Won-hong, further penalties, increased in both severity and number, may be expected in future.

The Ministry of Unification stated Kim Won-hong’s penalties were justified on the grounds of acts infringing personal rights, acting outside of one’s authority, and corruption, but these claims are likely to be superficial. Kim Won-hong’s dismissal has been analysed as an act to remove responsibility away from the regime, in response to growing dissatisfaction among ordinary North Korean citizens, who are becoming increasingly aware of the inner workings of the government, and are discontented by a low quality of living.

Kim Won-hong rose to power as the Minister for National Safety and Security in April 2012, and was a leading figure in the purges of Jang Song-thaek, Kim Jong Un’s uncle, and Hyun Yong-chul, the Minister of Defence.

Reporting by Yoon, Hye-ryeon.

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