South Korea’s National Intelligence Service reportedly claims that North Korea killed five security officials because they angered Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. South Korea’s spy agency also accuses Kim of ordering the death of his own half-brother, although the two cases don’t appear to be related.
Five security officials killed
Bloomberg reports that South Korean officials privately briefed lawmakers on the deaths of the five security officers. The National Intelligence Service reportedly claimed that North Korea used anti-aircraft guns to execute the five senior officials. The spy agency informed lawmakers that the five officials were said to have given false reports to Kim, although it’s unclear exactly what they said, other than that he was “enraged” after it was discovered that what they had said was untrue.
The agency also didn’t tell lawmakers how they obtained the information. According to Bloomberg, spies in South Korea “have a spotty record when reporting about high-level events in authoritarian, cloistered North Korea.” Pyongyang reportedly terminated the employment of state security chief Kim Won Hong, and Seoul said the causes of that were making false reports, torture his agency had committed, abuse of power and corruption.
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However, Pyongyang hasn’t issued a statement about Kim’s employment or the allegations that his department had executed officials. His department has been accused of executing or firing many government officials since he was elevated to head of the department more than four years ago. South Korean officials said these latest five officials who were executed had worked in Kim Won Hong’s department.
Kim Jong Nam also said to be killed
Media reports also claim that Kim Jong Un ordered the assassination of his estranged half-brother. However, North Korea continues to deny that it had anything to do with Kim Jong Nam’s death and has accused South Korea of making “false reports.” According to USA Today, the “false reports” of which the five security officials were accused of making seem to be unrelated to Kim Jong Nam’s death.
Malaysian officials are investigating Kim’s death after he was poisoned on Feb. 13 at the airport in Kuala Lumpur. South Korea’s spy agency reportedly informed lawmakers that of the eight suspects in Kim Jong Nam’s assassination, four were employed by the Ministry of State Security in North Korea, while two worked for the nation’s foreign ministry, reports USA Today.
Malaysian officials said over the weekend that the suspects poisoned him with a nerve agent at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, and he died within 20 minutes of coming into contact with the poison. One woman from Vietnam and another from Indonesia who are suspected of being involved in his death reportedly told officials that men from North Korea tricked them into thinking it was only a prank that would be aired on a reality TV show.
Video caught the two women spreading some substance on the man’s face, according to CNN. A South Korean lawmaker told the media that two groups involved in the assassination did their planning separately and then met in Malaysia just before Kim was killed. One group consisting of two North Korean officials was said to have recruited the woman from Vietnam, while the other group also consisting of two North Korean officials is said to have recruited the suspect from Indonesia.
The United Nations has classified the nerve agent used to kill Kim, known as VX, as a weapon of mass destruction.