North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has purged high-ranking military officers to consolidate his grip on power after the death of his father Kim Jong-il, it emerged on Tuesday.
A source familiar with North Korea said Kim Jong-un ordered officials in January to remove anyone caught misbehaving during the mourning period for Kim Jong-il. "We have information that an assistant chief of the General Staff Department was arrested and shot by firing squad on charges of sexual harassment during the mourning period," the source added.
The General Staff Department takes orders directly from Kim Jong-un in wartime and commands the entire North Korean military. There are six or seven assistant chiefs under Gen. Ri Yong-ho, the chief of General Staff. It remains unclear which assistant chief was purged.
A high-ranking government official here said, "To my knowledge, an assistant chief of the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces was also put in front of a firing squad early this year for being drunk during the mourning period."
Kim Sung-min of Free North Korea Radio, a former captain in the North Korean army, recalled that Kim Jong-il also carried out a bloody purge after the death of his father Kim Il-sung in the name of restoring public order. "There is a strong chance that Kim Jong-un is doing exactly what his father did," he said.