A rumor has recently spread around North Korea that Yeon Hyung Mook, former Premier of the North Korean Cabinet and Vice Director of the National Defense Commission, was assassinated in October 2005 on the orders of Kim Jong Il.
An inside source said in a telephone interview with Daily NK on the 27th that “As the rumor has spread rapidly, so people have criticized that those who speak plainly to Kim Jong Il, like Yeon Hyung Mook, are all killed as a result.” One other source also relayed that many such rumors are running around these days because the country is in chaos.
According to the sources, the rumor that former Chief Secretary Yeon Hyung Mook was assassinated on Kim Jong Il’s orders started circulating in Jagang Province first and has spread nationwide through the markets.
The backdrop to the assassination of Yeon was allegedly that Chief Secretary Yeon was a plain-spoken person. However, there were no details about when, by whom, and how he was assassinated.
The source reported that “During the March of Tribulation in the mid-1990s, he suggested to Kim Jong Il that food should be bought with the dollars that the Second Economic Commission, which manages munitions economics, possessed, in order to release food for distribution to the people. However, it reportedly was not approved of by Kim Jong Il.”
He was known as an official of high integrity with a good reputation and was much respected. He was the Premier of the Cabinet from 1988 to 1992.
The source said that “While the story that Yeon was assassinated on Kim Jong Il’s order spreads, so rumors about Moon Sung Sool, Seo Yoon Suek and Kim Dal Hyun, who were all executed a long time ago, also spread multifold. People have been revealing their discontent, saying that honest persons are all killed by the ‘upper’ (Kim Jong Il).”
In 1998, Moon Sung Sool, a former Chief Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party, died mysteriously while he was under interrogation by the National Security Party for the “Shimhwajo Case,” the massive espionage crack-down ordered by Kim Jong Il to remove close associates of Kim Il Sung in the late 1990s, after Kim Il Sung’s death. His family members all died in a political prison camp.
Former Chief Secretary of the Party in South Pyongan Province Seo Yoon Suek was also killed for his involvement in the “Shimhwajo Case.”
Kim Dal Hyun, who used to be a Manager of the February 8 Vinylon Complex and was known to South Korea as one of a faction that was inclined towards opening, hung himself in December 2000. A lot of doubt about his death remains.
Yeon Hyung Mook was in Kim Jong Il’s tight circle, leading the munitions industry from within the powerful elite. He was the son of an Anti-Japanese revolutionary, so Kim Il Sung had great faith in him. Therefore, he was appointed to the post of Vice Director of the Heavy Industry Department of the Party and was already a secretary of the Party in his 30s. In 1975, he became Vice-Minister of the Administration Council and the First Vice-Minister of the Machine Industry Committee. He additionally became the Minister of the Administration Council in 1988 and also worked as a committee member in the Political Department.
When the chronic economic crisis became serious in 1992, he was fired from his position as a Minister and demoted to Chief Secretary of the Party in Jagang Province.
He returned to a post in the Defense Committee of the Party in Pyongyang at the first round of the 10th term of the Supreme People’s Assembly. This was because he promoted growth through the construction of a power plant and other new policies in Jagang Province.
The publication of the Workers Party, Rodong Shinmun reported simply that on October 22, 2005, “Yeon Hyung Mook, the Chief Secretary of Jagang Province, died from chronic disease.”