The manager of a North Korean terrapin farm was reportedly executed shortly after Kim Jong-un visited his facility in May, the Korean news site Daily NK reported on Tuesday.
The Taedonggang Terrapin Farm was originally built by Kim's father, North Korea's previous leader Kim Jong-il, who "exerted efforts to provide the people with tasty and nutritious terrapin widely known as precious tonic from olden times," according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
But when Kim toured the facility in May, he was disappointed. During his visit, which was documented by KCNA, he accused the officials working there of "incompetence, outmoded way of thinking and irresponsible work style," KCNA reported.
Kim was particularly upset that the facility had failed to breed lobsters, which had been given to the farm in anticipation of a festival celebrating the anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea in October.
A number of anonymous sources in North Korea have informed the Daily NK that the facility's manager was punished soon after Kim's visit.
"The manager was shot and killed after the Marshal [Kim Jong-un] made his field guidance tour to the terrapin farm near Taedong River in Pyongyang," a source in Pyongyang said. "He was executed because some of the tanks were not adequately supplied with food and water, leading to the death of a lot of terrapins."
During Kim's visit in May, the farm manager explained that the terrapins had died because their tanks lacked adequate electricity. But Kim blamed the failures on bad management.
Another anonymous source told the Daily NK that most likely electricity shortages were to blame for the farm's poor performance.
"Some parts of the farm weren't able to receive water in a timely manner because of the lack of electricity," the source said. "That fact in conjunction with food shortages caused all the baby terrapins in the facilities to die."
North Korea, which gets 60 percent of its power from hydroelectric dams, is in the middle of a massive drought, and electricity shortages have become the norm.
A report recently released by the Korean Institute for National Unification, a think tank funded by the South Korean government, calculated that the North Korean regime has publicly executed 1,382 people since 2000. The estimated figure is derived from secondhand accounts and interviews with 221 North Korean defectors, and has not been independently verified. North Korea does not release information on executions.
"These kinds of executions are warning signals to the people," Jean H. Lee, a policy fellow and expert on North Korea at the Wilson Center, told VICE News. "If they violate their country's laws, there will be consequences."
Watch the VICE News documentary Launching Balloons into North Korea: Propaganda Over Pyongyang