Wednesday 13 May 2015

North Korean Defense Minister Executed By Antiaircraft Fire For Falling Asleep

SEOUL—North Korea’s defense minister has been executed by antiaircraft fire for disloyalty and showing disrespect to dictator Kim Jong Un, senior officials from Seoul’s National Intelligence Service told South Korean lawmakers in a closed hearing Tuesday.

Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol allegedly fell asleep during military events and talked back to the leader, the officials told the Intelligence Committee of South Korea’s National Assembly, according to a person familiar with the briefing.

Several others in Pyongyang’s top brass were also removed from their posts, the person said. The moves are the latest shuffling of officials that began when Mr. Kim inherited power from his father in late 2011. The frequency of the changes is higher than in previous regimes, observers say.

But more than three years into power, no clear signs of general instability in Mr.Kim’s regime have emerged.

North Korea hasn’t officially acknowledged the public execution or the officials’ removal through its state media and it wasn't possible to independently verify any of the information provided to the committee hearing.

Lim Byung-chul, spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said Wednesday Mr. Hyon was last seen in public late last month but couldn’t confirm the execution’s timing.

North Korea’s purges should be viewed as a way to “create an atmosphere of terror” to consolidate Mr. Kim’s grip on power, Mr. Lim added.

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