SEOUL, July 9 (UPI) -- North Korea denied South Korea press reports its top-level officials are defecting, and Seoul's Unification Ministry said Thursday the defection of one top-level official is unconfirmed.
Pyongyang's state media outlet KCNA denounced the South Korea reports, and said claims that former Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Pak Sung Won had fled to Seoul are vicious rumors, South Korean news outlet Newsis reported.
An unidentified spokesman at South Korea's Unification Ministry said Seoul never confirmed the defection, South Korean newspaper Kyunghyang Sinmun reported.
When various South Korea press reports suggested Pak had either defected or been executed, North Korea's KCNA denounced the suggestions, and called them outright lies.
"The conservative South Korea press is viciously circulating rumors of 'instabilities in the North Korea system,'" KCNA said in statement.
"Even as South Korea's conservative press faction labels the top official a 'defector,' at this very moment he is providing guidance at Masikryong Ski Resort to ensure it becomes a place of happiness and laughter."
Masikryong Ski Resort is a multimillion-dollar construction project of Kim Jong Un that was launched to attract tourism to North Korea.
Pyongyang said it blames South Korean President Park Geun-hye's "clique" of conservatives for spreading negative perceptions of North Korea.
Pak was appointed deputy chief of the general staff of the KPA in 1995, according to Kyunghyang, and was recognized as a national hero in 2014 for his contribution to North Korea's only ski resort.