North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un may have had one of his top government officials executed because of a dispute over trees.
Citing an anonymous source "with knowledge of the north," the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that Kim "purged Vice Premier Choe Yong-gun with a gun."
Apparently, the source revealed, Choe had criticized Kim's forestry policies, incurring the wrath of the brutal dictator. He was executed by firing squad in May, the source added.
The fact that the vice premier has not been mentioned in North Korea's state media since last October is another sign he was purged, Yonhap asserted.
Kim took control of North Korea in 2011 upon the death of his father Kim Jong-il. His ruthlessness, particularly in dealing with senior officials accused of disloyalty, has been well documented.
In December 2013, Kim ordered the execution of his uncle and one-time mentor Jang Sung-taek, after he was abruptly accused of being a counter-revolutionary. Jang's entire extended family is also reported to have been executed in the purge.
Additionally, South Korean intelligence has claimed that Kim had his defense minister shot to pieces with anti-aircraft missiles for falling asleep during a formal military rally and general insubordination.