North Korea has arrested and possibly executed its top financial official as it struggles to contain chaos set off by its botched attempt to halt inflation through a radical currency revaluation, according to news reports Thursday in South Korea.
The fate of Pak Nam-gi, the ruling Workers’ Party’s finance and planning department chief, who is said to have spearheaded the currency reform, became a focal point of speculation when he failed to appear at any official functions reported in the North Korean news media for the past two months.
But the reclusive nature of the North Korean government has made it nearly impossible to verify reports about high-ranking officials.
If the reports about his arrest or execution are true, though, they suggest that the ailing North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, considers the public discontent in the aftermath of the currency reform a serious challenge to his grip on power.
Mr. Pak “was executed at a firing range in Pyongyang on the trumped-up charges of being an antirevolutionary element as public sentiments worsened over the failure of the currency reform,” the South Korean news agency, Yonhap, quoted unnamed “sources on North Korea” as saying.
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