A SCREAMING general fed to flesh-eating piranhas in a Bond villain-style lair sounds like the ending of a Hollywood blockbuster.
However, sensational reports emerged last week that Kim Jong-un had done just that in his North Korean presidential palace.
Purges have long been a staple of the ruthless regime as a means of the brutal Kim dynasty maintaining their iron grip on power.
But while execution methods are said to range from anti-aircraft guns, man-eating dogs, flame throwers and now even piranhas – it’s clear there is a lot of disinformation which emanates from the secretive kingdom.
Last week, it emerged that Kim’s US envoy Kim Hyok-chol is in fact alive and in custody – after it was widely reported he had been killed.
Dr John Hemmings, Director of the Asia Studies at the Henry Jackson Society, said that it is hard to verify stories about the “utterly bizarre” regime which has been a diplomatic basket case for decades.
However, the expert said he has no reason to doubt reports of officials being executed after his meeting with Trump in Vietnam ended with no deal.
Speaking with the Sun Online, he said: “Kim was clearly angry. So I don’t doubt there are purges and that people are being removed and punished – they might be sent out to labour camps or they may be executed.”
REAL-LIFE BOND VILLAIN
Dr Hemmings, who briefs the UK Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence on matters relating to Asia, added that dictators such as Kim view purges as “a necessary exercise” to maintain their ruthless grip on power.
He said that the 35-year-old North Korean leader is following in his dad Kim Jong-il’s footsteps.
The expert said: “When his father came to power – he purged a number of people who held a claim to power.
“Many of those old revolutionaries who had fought against the Japanese – a lot of them were retired and just vanished.”
He added that Kim Jong-il’s love of Hollywood movies appears to have inspired many of his son’s execution methods.
Dr Hemmings calls the assassination of Kim’s half-brother in a Malaysian airport in 2018 as “pure James Bond-stuff.”
Kim Jong-nam was killed with a nerve agent while waiting for a flight at Kuala Lumpur airport– in a murder which is widely believed to have been ordered by the North Korean regime.
The expert added: “This is Russian-style punishment where there is supposed to be no doubt what the message is here.”
Kim admitted he was 'not a god' after Trump summit
A “HUMILIATED” Kim Jong-un admitted he was “not a god” and resigned from a key position following his disastrous nuke summit with Donald Trump, it has been claimed.
The North Korean leader, 35, walked away from his meeting with the US President in Vietnam in February empty handed – a failure which has reportedly sparked a fresh purge of officials.
But it is now claimed that Kim, in a bid to appear humble, admitted that he was not “omnipotent” and resigned from the rogue state’s defence council when he returned from Hanoi.
Expert Dr John Hemmings, Director of the Asia Studies at the Henry Jackson Society, told The Sun Online that a senior South Korean military official made the revelation at a conference in Seoul last month.
He said: “Kim spent 60 hours on the train going down to Vietnam and then 60 hours all the way schlepping back to North Korea.
“He was humiliated. He immediately gave as speech in which he declared not to be omnipotent. He said ‘I’m not a god’.
“He admitted his part in the error before resigning from the defence council.
“This was all in preparation for the purge and to squash discontent and explain how he’d misunderstood Trump.”
In his meeting with the brash New Yorker, Kim reportedly asked for economic sanctions against North Korea to be dropped in return for the part-dismantling of his nuclear arsenal.
Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo balked at the dictator’s terms and walked away from the meeting.
Last week, it was reported that one of the dictator’s general was thrown into a piranha-filled tank for supposedly plotting a coup to overthrow the regime.
It has been reported that the execution was inspired by 1977 Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.
Dr Hemmings said it’s impossible to verify such stories, adding “It’s all very bizarre.”
In 2013, Kim’s uncle Jang Song-taek was said to have been eaten alive by a pack of 120 wild dogs.
But while Song-taek was murdered by the state – it soon emerged that the ‘death by hounds’ story had been made up by a Chinese spoof news site.
Donald Trump revealed last month that Kim had his uncle’s severed head put on display following his execution by anti-aircraft gun.
And that’s one grisly method of execution which is known to be used by the rogue state.
BODIES BLOWN APART
A defector in 2017 said she witnessed 11 people obliterated by the weaponry before their body parts were mashed into the ground by tanks.
Her statement is backed up by US satellite images from 2014 which show six Soviet-made anti-aircraft machine guns pointing at a number of people who were only 100ft away.
The authors of a report by the US Committee for Human Rights concluded: “The most plausible explanation of the scene captured in the October 7th satellite image is a gruesome public execution.”
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In 2014, a South Korean newspaper reported that the country’s deputy public security minister O Sang Hon was “executed by flamethrower.”
However, this story came from a solitary anonymous source and has proven difficult for journalists and experts to corroborate.
Dr Hemmings said: “It’s hard to know whether these are rumours being fed by the regime to create fear or if they’re made up by North Korea’s enemies.”
Hundreds of sites where the hermit kingdom is believed to have conducted public executions have been revealed as part of new research.
KILLED IN FRONT OF FAMILIES
The Seoul-based Transitional Justice Working Group has mapped hundreds of locations where witnesses claim North Korea carried out public slayings and extrajudicial state killings.
According to the report, the public executions tended to happen near rivers, in fields and on hills, and also at marketplaces and school grounds.
Family members of those sentenced are often forced to attend the killings, the researchers said.
The human rights group said its research was based on interviews conducted over four years with 610 North Korean defectors.
New research shows the sites of North Korea’s public executions[/caption]
Kim executed his uncle Jang Song Thaek, left, in 2013, using an anti-aircraft gun[/caption]
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