Though reports from North Korea are almost impossible to confirm, it is being reported that Hyon Yong-chol fell asleep during an event where Kim Jong-un was present and failed to carry out the instructions he was given, according to the Yonhap news agency.
Hyon Yong-chol became Minister of the People’s Armed Forces in 2012, after a political ‘purge’. He was executed with an anti-aircraft gun for showing “disloyalty to Kim Jong-un”.
This is not the first time anti-aircraft guns were used for a public execution in North Korea. Satellite images showed several unidentified people being executed in the same manner in October 2014. Analysts say it is surprising that such a senior man, one who was close to Kim Jong-un, was executed this way.
Han Ki-Beom, Deputy Director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Agency (NIS), said that hundreds of people watched the execution of North Korea’s Defense Minister in Pyongyang on April 30.
Earlier the NIS had claimed that senior officials in North Korea were being killed at the rate of one per week. If true, this suggests that Kim Jong-un feels very paranoid to be at the head of the state. Mike Madden of North Korea Leadership Watch told the BBC that this execution was “a demonstration of power and authority.”
Kim Jong-un has had a history of impulsive decision-making and has conducted a series of purges since he became the leader. In December 2013, he executed his uncle, Chang Song-thaek, a powerful political figure.