N Korea 'executes' top official

Former party official faces firing squad over botched currency reform plan, report says.

    Pak Nam-gi was reportedly executed by firing squad in Pyongyang last week [GALLO/GETTY]
    In depth


     
    North Korea: A state of war
     N Korea's nuclear trump card

    Videos:
     
    101 East looks at the future of North Korea
     A rare look at life inside North Korea

    The move was also seen by many observers as an attempt by the country's leaders to reassert control over an emergent market economy.

    But the scheme, which involved redenominating the North Korean won, reportedly lead to widespread panic and unrest as many North Koreans saw their savings wiped out.

    Yonhap said Pak was executed after he was accused of ruining the nation's economy through the currency revaluation.

    It said the botched scheme which had worsened public opinion and had a negative impact on plans by Kim Jong-il, North Korea's leader, to hand power over to his youngest son.

    Scapegoat

    Pak had been one of Kim's close associates and frequently accompanied the leader on his trademark "field inspections" to farms, factories and military bases across North Korea.

    Revaluation of the won reportedly sparked widespread unrest [GALLO/GETTY]

    The agency said many North Koreans believed Pak had been made a scapegoat for the failure of the revaluation.

    South Korea's unification ministry and the National Intelligence Service (NIS) could not confirm the reports.

    Under the revaluation, North Koreans were reportedly entitled to exchange only up to 150,000 old won – equivalent to about $60 at black market rates - to new won, at a rate of 100 to 1.

    Groups with contacts in North Korea said the move had hit private traders particularly hard, driving many out of business and worsening food shortages in the isolated and impoverished country.

    Recent years had seen a network of officially-tolerated private markets develop across North Korea with many North Koreans relying on them for food and other essentials.

    But analysts say the government had become increasingly concerned about the power some traders were amassing and the threat they posed to officials' tight control over North Korean society.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.