Author: Nicola Smith
Posted on: TELEGRAPH | January 30th,2018
North Korea has stepped up its executions, the top commander of US troops on the Korean Peninsula said on Monday, amid increasing strain on the its military from international economic sanctions.
“We’re seeing some increase in executions, mostly against political officers who are in military units, for corruption,” General Vincent K Brooks, the top US commander in South Korea told the Wall Street Journal.
He added that the actions “are really about trying to clamp down on as much as possible on something that might be deteriorating and keeping it from deteriorating too quickly.”
In recent months the South Korean press has reported the possible execution of Park In-young, the official in charge of Pyongyang’s nuclear test facilities, and former military chief, General Hwang Pyong-so, who was accused of allegedly taking bribes.
General Brooks also noted a recent shift in the pattern of defections from the North.
“We’re seeing defections happening in areas where we don’t generally see them, for example crossing the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone on the border),” he said.
Meanwhile, North Korea has been cutting back on its winter military drills as harsh sanctions over its nuclear and weapons programme begin to bite, say analysts.
The military exercises, which usually run from December to March, got started late and aren’t as extensive as before, the Journal reported.
The United Nations has placed major restrictions on imports of oil and refined petroleum products to North Korea, which may have led to a reduction in military activities to save fuel.
“Where this will have an effect in on ground-force readiness,” Joseph Bermudez, a military analyst for 38 North, a website run by Johns Hopkins University’s US-Korea Institute, told the paper.
“Military units have to train to maintain their proficiency.”
North Korean workers overseas, previously a big source of foreign currency for the regime, are also now being sent home from their host countries after strict new sanctions imposed by the UN in August, following Pyongyang’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
On Tuesday it emerged that Angola was the latest country to terminate all of its contracts with North Korean construction company, Mansudae, and had asked its employees to leave.