North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un ordered the executions of 340 people in the five years that he has been in power, according to a report [materials in Korean] from the Institute for National Security Strategy [website in Korean], a South Korean think tank. About 140 of those executed are believed to have been senior officials in the North Korean government, according to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service [website]. The 200 page INSS report details several particularly brutal executions. North Korean Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol was killed [Korean Times report] in front of an audience with an anti-aircraft gun, with reports [Yonhap News report] that his offense was “dozing off” at a meeting.
North Korea has been an international source of concern due to the country’s human rights record and instability. In March UN human rights investigator Marzuki Darusman [official profile] urged [press release] the UN Human Rights Council to push for the prosecution of top North Korean government officials for crimes against humanity [JURIST report]. In February Darusman asked the UN to provide North Korea with notice [JURIST report] that Kim Jong Un may be investigated for crimes against humanity. The US House of Representatives [official website] in January approved [press release] legislation that would increase sanctions against North Korea for its continuation of nuclear testing [JURIST report]. Japan and the EU circulated [JURIST report] a draft UN resolution in November condemning North Korea’s human rights abuses and encouraging the UN Security Council to refer the country to the International Criminal Court [official website], noting reports of torture, limits on freedom of mobility, restrictions on freedom of speech, restrictions on freedom of religion, privacy infringement, arbitrary imprisonment, prison camps and more.