‘No trace’ left af­ter ex­treme ex­e­cu­tions in North Korea

Pa­per tells of Kim’s mor­tar fir­ing squad

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY AN­DREW SALMON

SEOUL | North Korea’s young new leader, Kim Jong-un, has in­sti­tuted a novel method of ex­e­cut­ing mil­i­tary of­fi­cers — mor­tar fir­ing squad, South Korea’s lead­ing daily news­pa­per re­ported Tues­day.

The 20-some­thing Mr. Kim or­dered a mil­i­tary of­fi­cer to be ex­e­cuted in a way that would leave “no trace of him be­hind, down to his hair,” the daily Cho­sun Ilbo re­ported, quot­ing a South Korean gov­ern­ment source.

The of­fi­cer was placed at the aim­ing point of a mor­tar range, where an ar­tillery shell ex­ploded and blew him to pieces, the news­pa­per re­ported. His crime: be­ing caught drunk dur­ing the mourn­ing pe­riod for Kim Jong-il, Mr. Kim’s fa­ther and pre­de­ces­sor who died in De­cem­ber.

The ex­e­cu­tion was part of a purge of “un­sound” mil­i­tary of­fi­cers that took place un­der the con­trol of the new supreme leader, the pa­per re­ported.

“When Kim Jong-un be­came North Korean leader fol­low­ing the mourn­ing pe­riod for his fa­ther in late De­cem­ber, high-rank­ing mil­i­tary of­fi­cers started dis­ap­pear­ing,” the South Korean gov­ern­ment source told Cho­sun Ilbo. “From in­for­ma­tion com­piled over the last month, we have con­cluded that dozens of mil­i­tary of­fi­cers were purged.”

Mr. Kim also or­dered loyal of­fi­cials to “get rid of” any­one caught mis­be­hav­ing dur­ing the mourn­ing pe­riod for his fa­ther, the source added.

The North Korean Peo­ple’s Army uses War­saw Pact 82 mm mor­tars that fire ar­tillery shells that weigh as much as 7 pounds and pro­duce a killing ra­dius of about 17 yards on im­pact.

Those fa­mil­iar with the se­cre­tive North Korean regime say its au­thor­i­ties are not shy about us­ing the gris­li­est ex­e­cu­tion tech­niques.

“I have not heard of mor­tar ex­e­cu­tions, but it is pos­si­ble, as the North Korean gov­ern­ment uses the most hor­ri­ble meth­ods,” Shin Ju-hyun of the Daily NK, a South Korean non­profit group with in­tel­li­gence about North Korea, told Bri­tain’s Daily Tele­graph news­pa­per.

“One de­fec­tor told me of an ex­e­cu­tion in which 90 bul­lets were fired. Af­ter­wards, the vic­tim’s body was so torn apart, it was im­pos­si­ble to iden­tify,” Mr. Shin said.

Some re­gional an­a­lysts were hes­i­tant to grant full cred­i­bil­ity to the re­port in Cho­sun Ilbo, a con­ser­va­tive pa­per.

“In re­cent years, South Korea me­dia and au­thor­i­ties have been far more skep­ti­cal of the weird and won­der­ful sto­ries com­ing out of North Korea, such as can­ni­bal­ism,” said Michael Breen, a bi­og­ra­pher of Kim Jong-il.

“This is the first juicy story about Kim Jongun, and it is al­most cer­tainly from low-grade in­tel­li­gence that got dis­torted in the telling. But there is a con­stituency that wants to be­lieve it.”

Still, Mr. Breen did not dis­miss the re­port en­tirely. “Who knows?” he said. “It may be true.”

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