N. Korea shuts down department of leader's executed uncle: report

North Korea has shut down a ruling Workers' Party department that was headed by Jang Song Taek, the once-powerful uncle of leader Kim Jong Un who was killed as a traitor last December, and executed or interned 11 high-ranking officials, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday.

Citing a source, the Chosun Ilbo daily said Jang's closest confidants Ri Yong Ha and Jang Su Gil were purged along with nine other high-ranking party officials, while around 100 lower-ranking party officials loyal to Jang were sacked.

The source was quoted as saying O Sang Hon, a deputy minister at the Ministry of Public Security, was "executed by flamethrower" for having turned the ministry into Jang's personal protection squad.

The report said the regime is preparing a third purge of officials who supported Jang, which will target his supporters in provincial chapters of the Workers' Party.

The first purge involved his family, relatives and high-ranking party officials, while the second purge is underway, it said.

The source said Jang's elder sister Kye Sun and her husband and Ambassador to Cuba Jon Yong Jin, as well as their son-in-law Kim Yong Ho, who was head of a trading company, were executed.

But Ambassador to Malaysia Jang Yong Chol, Jang's nephew, escaped with his life. He was sent to a concentration camp shortly after Jang Song-taek's execution but was ordered to return to Pyongyang without a job after South Korean media reported rumors of his execution, the source added.

South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Eui Do told a press briefing Monday that there is a "strong possibility" that such mass executions occurred in North Korea though he could not confirm the report.