Nov. 20 (UPI) -- North Korea is conducting a rare inspection of a key military organ due to its "impure behavior" and has punished its top officials, South Korea's spy agency said Monday.
During its briefing to the National Assembly's intelligence committee, the National Intelligence Agency (NIS) said that while the North inspected its military's General Political Bureau for the first time in two decades, Hwang Pyong-so and Kim Won-hong, the bureau's chief and deputy chief, were punished.
The inspection was led by Choe Ryong-hae, the vice chairman of the North's ruling Workers' Party.
"We have been watching the situation as we have gathered such intelligence" on the punishment, the agency was quoted by Rep. Kim Byung-kee of the ruling Democratic Party as saying.
The bureau is seen as one of the most influential military institutions as it leads the crucial personnel management of other military bodies such as the Ministry of People's Armed Forces. It was once headed by Choe.
The NIS also reported that the North has been focusing on forestalling a possible negative impact of the tightening international sanctions on public sentiment.
Pyongyang "has devised a system whereby party organs report people's economic hardships on a daily basis, and it has banned any gatherings related to drinking, singing and other entertainment and is strengthening control of outside information," the NIS said.