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Kim Jong-un has employed fear and brutality to consolidate his iron grip on power – executing anyone who stands in his way.
The North Korean tyrant has ruled the hermit kingdom since his dad’s death 10 years ago.
At the time, he was considered politically inexperienced compared to other family members.
However, Kim’s ruthlessness cemented his position and sowed fear among his enemies.
Along with potential political rivals, the North Korean regime also targets citizens who violate the country's rules – from coronavirus restrictions to bans on foreign culture.
Here, the Daily Star examines some of its most notorious killings.
Uncle shot dead by firing squad
Jang Song-thaek, widely considered to be the second most powerful man in the country, was shot dead in 2013.
Prior to the execution, officials stripped Kim's uncle of his power and positions and accused him of criminal acts including mismanagement of the state financial system, womanising and alcohol abuse.
North Korea’s KCNA news agency released pictures of a handcuffed Jang being manhandled by guards and said he had been executed for trying to seize power and for driving the economy “into an uncontrollable catastrophe”.
Defector Kang Cheol-hwan claimed the politician was killed with anti-aircraft guns.
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Two eyewitnesses told him that Kim had forced his uncle to watch two colleagues get blown apart in the same fashion.
Kang told CNN: "They let it fire against these two people and these two people instantly disappeared and all the blood, it poured into Jang Song-thaek's face, who was forced to witness them and he fainted."
Other reports suggested that he had been stripped naked and fed to a pack of dogs.
However, the claims originated on a satirical post on a Chinese social media network, The Guardian reported.
Burned alive with flamethrower
North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un seen in public for first time in a month
In 2014, Kim executed a senior North Korean official after he was branded an “enemy of the state”.
O Sang-hon, a deputy minister at the Ministry of Public Security, was killed because of his supposed ties to Jang Song-thaek.
He and 10 other high-ranking officials were executed or interned, South Korean newspaper The Chosen Ilbo reported.
A source told the publication that Sang-hon had turned the Workers Party department into a personal protection squad for Jang.
The pair had worked together at North Korea’s ministry of public security, which was afterwards closed.
Musicians shot over ‘porn videos’
North Korea 'on the brink of famine' amid fears millions will starve to death
One defector claims to have witnessed a group of musicians being slaughtered after she was pulled out of school.
Hee Yeon Lim, 26, fled to South Korea in 2016 and afterwards spoke out about life under the regime.
She was taken to a stadium at Pyongyang’s Military Academy, where the victims were tied to anti-aircraft guns.
She told the Daily Mirror: "A gun was fired, the noise was deafening, absolutely terrifying and the guns were fired one after the other.
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"The musicians just disappeared each time the guns were fired into them. Their bodies were blown to bits, totally destroyed, blood and bits flying everywhere.
"And then after that military tanks moved in and they ran over the bits on the ground where the remains lay.
"The tracks of the tanks were run over the remains and blood repeatedly, over and over again and made to grind the remains, to smash them into the ground until there was nothing left."
Half-brother killed with chemical weapon
North Korean orphans 'volunteering' to work in brutal coal mines, state media claims
In 2017, Kim’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam was approached from behind by a woman at Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur airport.
She covered his face with a cloth drenched in liquid VX, a chemical weapon, and clamped it over his face.
The 46-year-old, who had been travelling under the pseudonym Kim Chol, died on his way to hospital.
North Korea was accused of a state-sponsored assassination to consolidate Kim’s grip on power, but the country has denied any involvement.
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Doan Thi Huong, the 30-year-old Vietnamese woman who smothered Kim Jong Nam, pleaded guilty to causing harm by dangerous means and was sentenced to three years in prison back in 2019.
Her Indonesian accomplice, Siti Aisyah, 26, was freed on March 11, 2019, after a Malaysian court dropped charges against her.
Jong-nam travelled to Malaysia in 2017 to meet a CIA contact, the Wall Street Journal reported.
- Kim Jong Un
- North Korea Dprk
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