Has Pyongyang started incinerating enemies of the state? At least 11 high-ranking officials in North Korea have been imprisoned or executed as part of another round of purges following the execution of Kim Jong Un's uncle, including a security chief who was burned alive with a flamethrower, according to an unconfirmed report in the South Korean press. A third purge of supporters of Jang Song Thaek will follow this second one, a source tells Chosun Ilbo. The source claims the security chief was singled out for the horrific method of execution because he had turned the country's Ministry of Public Security into Jang's private protection squad.
If true, the widely circulated story is chilling, but if not, it will be the third time in three months that an outlandish and ultimately false story from North Korea has caught the attention of the world's media, notes the Washington Post. Earlier reports claimed that Kim had fed his uncle to 120 starving dogs—and that all men in the country had been required to adopt the leader's haircut. The flamethrower story, however, may be more plausible: It came from a well-known source who has been closely following the country's political purges. (Read more North Korea stories.)