A new report obtained by CNN claims that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has ordered the executions of 340 people since he took power. Among those executed, about 140 were senior officers in the country's government and military. The Institute for National Security Strategy, a South Korean think tank, released the report Thursday.
A high-profile North Korean diplomat who recently defected to South Korea also warned that Kim is aggressively pursuing a missile-launched nuclear weapon system.
Leaked information of brutal executions
Although it is rare for any information to leak from the isolated nation, during the last five years multiple stories of Kim's executions have come to light.
One of North Korea's top education officials was executed by a firing squad earlier this year for reportedly having a "bad attitude."
Tightening grip on power
In 2015, Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol was executed in front of an audience at a military school in the country's capital city of Pyongyang.
Kim's uncle was executed in 2013 for reportedly trying to overthrow the government, CNN reports.
The South Korean think tank that released the report maintains that Un has repeatedly used executions to tighten his grip on the country.
Kim Jong Un delivered his first publicly televised speech as leader on April 15, 2012 during a mass celebration of his grandfather's 100th birthday. (Photo: Associated Press)
One high-profile North Korean diplomat, Thae Yong-ho, who recently defected to South Korea told CNN Kim is "racing ahead with nuclear development."
Yong-ho said political uncertainty in South Korea and the United States has given the dictator plenty of time to develop a missile-launched nuclear weapon "at all costs by the end of 2017."
Earlier this year, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said trying to get North Korea to surrender its nuclear weapons is a "lost cause."