North Korea has exiled its vice foreign minister and his family to a rural farming region outside of Pyongyang following the recent defection of the country’s deputy ambassador to the UK.
According to the South Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo on Tuesday, North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un ordered Kung Sok-Ung removal from his post after Pyongyang’s UK ambassador defected, along with his family, to the South around two months ago.
"Since Thae Yong-Ho's defection in late July, there has been an overall inspection throughout the foreign ministry," the paper quoted a source familiar with North Korean affairs as saying.
"Kung Sok-Ung was held accountable for the embassies in Europe and purged as a result," the source added.
The report also said that four other diplomats in charge of European affairs were also expelled from the capital.
Last week the paper published a report which said several North Korean embassy officials stationed in China had defected.
According to official figures provided by South Korea, nearly 30,000 people from North Korea have so far managed to defect to the South since the conclusion of the 1950-1953 Korean War.
Since coming to power in 2011, Kim has ordered several purges and executions of high-ranking officials. According to South Korea's Yonhap news agency during his reign around 100 government officials have been put to death.