N Korea purges vice foreign minister
North Korea has purged its vice foreign minister as punishment for the recent defection of the nuclear-armed country’s deputy ambassador to Britain, South Korean media reported on Wednesday.
The mass-circulation JoongAng Ilbo, quoting an anonymous source familiar with North Korean affairs, said that Kung Sok-Ung had been removed from his post and expelled from Pyongyang to a rural farming area with his family.
It said the purge was ordered by supreme leader Kim Jong-Un following the defection of the North’s deputy ambassador to Britain, Thae Yong-Ho, and his family to the South two months ago.
“Since Thae Yong-Ho’s defection in late July, there has been an overall inspection throughout the foreign ministry,” the source said.
“Kung Sok-Ung was held accountable for the embassies in Europe and purged as a result.”
The report said four other high-ranking diplomats in charge of European affairs were also expelled from Pyongyang.The 72-year-old Kung is a veteran diplomat who had been looking after North Korea’s diplomacy with Russia and Europe for nearly two decades.