A North Korean trade official was shot and killed after visiting a public bath while he was meant to be in quarantine for a coronavirus precaution, according to South Korean media.
HIs execution came after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made a decree that the country would “rule by military law” against anyone who left quarantine without approval. It has been reported that the hermit country, keen to avoid the virus at all costs, is isolating anyone who has travelled to China or has had contact with Chinese people.
Separately, it has also been reported that another official who tried to cover up his travels to China has been exiled to a farm within the country.
This is not the first time a person in Kim Jong-un’s government has been executed. It has been reported that in 2014 O Sang-hon, the former deputy public security minister, was executed with a flamethrower. It has also been reported that Kim Jong-un has executed multiple officials using anti-aircraft guns.
But there may yet be hope for the reportedly executed trade official, as news of officials being executed or punished in North Korea has been wrong in the past. In May 2019, there were reports that a top official, Kim Hyok Chol, was executed by firing squad, but in July 2019, South Korea’s intelligence agency reported that Kim Hyok Chol was still alive.
North Korea has not yet confirmed any cases of the coronavirus within its borders, and World Health Organization officials in Pyongyang say they are not aware of confirmed cases. However, some South Korean media outlets have reported multiple cases of the coronavirus and possible deaths within the country.