North Korea has executed its defense chief on charges of treason, South Korea’s spy agency said Wednesday, in the latest sign of a reign of terror by leader Kim Jong-un.
Hyon Yong-chol, the chief of North Korea’s People’s Armed Forces, was executed by firing squad using an anti-aircraft gun at a military school in Pyongyang around April 30, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) said.
Hyon, 66, was seen dozing off during a military event and did not carry out Kim’s instructions, a senior official of the agency told a group of reporters.
The spy agency also gave a similar briefing to lawmakers in a closed-door parliamentary session on Wednesday.
Hyon’s execution is the latest in a series of public executions in the communist country.
Hyon was named as the armed forces chief in June 2014, the No. 2 man within the North’s military after Hwang Pyong-so, director of the general political department of the Korean People’s Army (KPA). North Korea has not announced its purge of Hyon yet.
The NIS said that given available information, Hyon seemed to be purged not because he sought a rebellion but because he was “disrespectful” to the young leader.
Over the past six months, Kim punished other key senior officials including Ma Won-chun, director of the Designing Department at the North’s powerful National Defense Commission.
“As key officials have voiced more complaints, Kim has deepened a reign of terror by purging them in negligence of proper procedure,” the official said. “We believe that there are growing doubts about Kim’s leadership among North Korean ranking officials.” Read more