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(LEAD) N. Korea executed vice premier in July: Seoul official

All Headlines 11:31 August 31, 2016

(ATTN: REWRITES headline; UPDATES with more info throughout)

SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has carried out the execution of a vice premier, a Seoul government official said Wednesday, as the North's leader moves to further strengthen his reign of terror.

The official said North Korea executed the 63-year-old Kim Yong-jin by firing squad last month after he was accused of showing a bad attitude when attending a key parliamentary meeting held in late June.

He was shot after being branded an anti-revolutionary element. He was interrogated by the North's ministry on state security before being executed, he added.

The official said the North sent Kim Yong-chol, 71, the head of the United Front Department (UFD), to a rural farm for one month of re-education in mid-July as he showed a "heavy-handed" attitude and abused his power.

"As Kim will be more inclined to show his loyalty (to the North's leader) after (re-education), so the government is keeping close tabs on the possibility that North Korea would show a more hardline attitude toward South Korea," the official said.

Choe Hwi, a 61-year-old a vice department director of the ruling party's central committee, has also been undergoing re-education in a rural area since late May, the official added.

The North's leader has ordered the execution of many government and military officials, including his once-powerful uncle Jang Song-thaek, as he seeks to consolidate his oppressive rule. In May last year, then defense chief Hyon Yong-chol was executed.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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