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was killed and fed to the animals, who had been starved for three days beforehand, in 2013, the newspaper claimed. The former Minister of the State Security Department fell out of favour, and was once described by the as “despicable human scum, worse than a dog”.

Additional reports suggested officials stood watching as the dogs ate his remains, while eight of his closest allies were also executed.

Supreme leader Kim, who has been in power since 2011, is known for his ruthlessness, using his security forces to crush without mercy the merest hint of dissent in the Hermit State.

The purge which cost Jang his life was motivated by Kim’s desire to remove what he called “factionalist filth” in the communist state, the report claimed.

Jang, who was understandably said to have fainted during his, ordeal, was likely killed in order to consolidate Kim’s grasp on power after succeeding his father, Kim Jong-il, two years earlier.

Ra Jong-yil, author of Son-in-Law of a Theocracy, a biography of Jang, said: “With his execution, North Korea lost virtually the only person there who could have helped the country introduce reform and openness.”

Jang was widely reported to have indulged in a “pleasure squad”, whereby young women would reportedly sing American songs and perform stripteases.

If accurate, his death would be eerily similar to pictures released by the North’s KNCA agency in 2013 of a North Korean military dog biting a portrait of South Korea’s Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin fixed to a dummy.

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A report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission into relations Beijing and Pyong Yang suggested China has “taken steps to maintain its influence over North Korea”.

The China-North Korea Strategic Rift: Background and Implications for the United States report said: “China remains invested in ensuring North Korea’s economic dependence.”

However, the report explained the two countries at times maintained frosty relations, with North Korea trying to prevent major decisions from being influenced by China.

It adds: “Pyongyang has continued to maintain some distance from Beijing, maintaining tight control over its border with China and rejecting Chinese offers of novel Covid vaccines.”

Yesterday details emerged of forthcoming joint military drills involving the United States and South Korea, including a mock assassination of Kim himself.

The move is likely to further ratchet up tensions in south-east Asia already heightened by Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Speaking to the Daily Beast, an insider familiar with the planned exercises said they would end with a “decapitation” drill where the deep core of North Korea’s elite will be tackled and taken out.

Even though the source has revealed some key aspects, the US has not publicly admitted they are planning to carry out a dry run of Kim’s assassination.

The two nations have not held full-scale military drills since Donald Trump, Joe Biden’s predecessor as US President, met Kim in a series of high-profile summits.