Jane Onyanga-Omara, USA TODAY 10:33 a.m. EDT July 9, 2015
North Korea's ruler Kim Jong Un has executed about 70 officials "in a reign of terror" since taking power in late 2011, South Korean officials said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
Speaking at a forum in Seoul, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said Kim's late father Kim Jong Il had executed about 10 people in his first years in power â€” far fewer than his son.
The AP reported an official from South Korea's National Intelligence Service, who refused to be named citing office rules, said the agency believes Kim, who is thought to be around 32 years old, has executed about 70 officials. Information related to the highly secretive North Korea is extremely difficult to independently confirm.
In May, a report emerged that Hyon Yong-chol, North Korea's defense minister, had apparently been executed, possibly with an anti-aircraft gun, in front of hundreds of people at a military school in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.
His offense was disloyalty to Kim, Yonhap news agency reported, citing the NIS. Yonhap added Hyon, 66, was seen dozing off during a military event presided over by Kim and challenged his authority on several occasions. He may have been attempting to start a rebellion against the young leader, the NIS said.
In December 2013, Kim's uncle Jang Song Thaek â€” once considered North Korea's second most powerful man â€” was executed for alleged treason. Reports followed the next month that all direct relatives of Jang, who was married to Kim Jong Il's sister, had also been put to death.
South Korea's government has previously said that dozens of North Korean officials have been executed, many by machine gun.