North Korea’s defense minister Hyon Yong-chol has reportedly been executed for falling asleep at military events and showing disrespect to leader Kim Jong-Un, senior officials from Seoul’s National Intelligence Service told South Korean lawmakers in a closed hearing on Tuesday.
According to South Korea's Yonhap news agency, MPs were told that Hyon had been killed by anti-aircraft fire. He is said to be executed for also talking back to the dictator, thereby showing disrespect towards him. However, no official confirmation has come from the state media.
Hyon’s execution is not the first instance in which Kim has exerted his power. Since 2011, after he inherited power from his father, Kim Jong-il, several officials have been removed from their posts. Hyon was the fourth person in the position in two-and-a-half years when he was appointed in June as minister of the People’s Armed Forces.
A report by The Wall Street Journal has quoted Lim Byung-chul, spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, as saying that North Korea’s purges should be viewed as a way to “create an atmosphere of terror” to consolidate Kim’s grip on power.
Satellite images taken in October of the public execution site north of Pyongyang showed what appeared to be six anti-aircraft guns and unidentified people at an imminent execution, a recent report by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea said.