South Korean intelligence reports executions of a number of high North Korean officials by supreme leader Kim Jong Un, using methods including antiaircraft fire. The WSJ’s Deborah Kan talks about what the recent purge could mean for the Hermit Kingdom.
[VIDEO] North Korea: Satellite Imagery Captures What Analysts Say is Public Execution 북한 공개처형 장면 위성사진에 포착Posted: May 13, 2015
A U.S. civic group has released satellite images of North Korea that appear to show a public execution
Radio Free Asia reported Thursday that the Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea made public its analysis report on the photos that were taken last October from above a military training area located near Pyongyang.
Analysts indentified six anti-aircraft machine guns lined up across from some blurry objects with distinct shadows that appear to be people also lined up side-by-side on a firing range.
Whatever… or whoever… was in the images was no longer there in another picture taken nine days later.
The committee says the most plausible explanation is that a public execution had taken place there.
North Korea’s Defense Minister Hyon Yong-chol executed for showing disloyalty to leader Kim Jong-un
MPs were told Mr Hyon was killed on 30 April by anti-aircraft fire in front of an audience of hundreds, the Yonhap news agency reports.
“It said the ‘most plausible explanation’ for the image was a ‘gruesome public execution’ by anti-aircraft fire.”
It said Mr Hyon had fallen asleep during an event attended by Kim Jong-un and had not carried out instructions.
“Mr. Hyon had fallen asleep during an event attended by Kim Jong-un and had ‘not carried out instructions’.”
South Korea said a senior military officer was also killed. The news comes weeks after the reported execution of 15 senior officials.
Among them were two vice-ministers who had challenged Mr Kim over his policies and members of an orchestra, the South’s National Intelligence Agency (NIS) said at the time.
Analysts told the BBC that while reshuffles of officials were commonplace in North Korea, the execution of a figure as close to Mr Kim as Mr Hyon was surprising and could give cause for concern about the country’s stability.
Hyon Yong-chol, as defence minister, was as close to Kim Jong-un as it is possible to get.
“Such a public and brutal method of execution as obliteration by anti-aircraft gun would emphasize the cost of disloyalty.”
Intelligence reports always have to be treated with skepticism but, in this case, the claims of the South Korean spy agency will be easy to verify. If they are not true, the defense minister would appear again in public.
Earlier, the South Korean agency said that senior officials were being executed at the rate of one a week. It all adds up to a picture of a leader in Pyongyang who feels very insecure and who is dangerous in his insecurity.
“‘This is indicative of Kim Jong-un’s impulsive decision-making’ and a sign of a leader who is ‘not feeling secure’…’entirely a demonstration of power and authority.'”
— Mike Madden of North Korea Leadership Watch
Mr Hyon is believed to have been a general since 2010, though little is known about him. He served on the committee for late leader Kim Jong-il’s funeral in December 2011, an indication of his growing influence.
On September 1, 2014 the US State Department published a report, in which it was stated that for first time since the collapse of the USSR, Russia reached parity with the US in the field of strategic nuclear weapons. Thus, Washington admitted that Moscow regained the status that the Soviet Union had obtained by mid-70’s of the XX century and then lost.
According to the report from the State Department, Russia has 528 carriers of strategic nuclear weapons that carry 1,643 warheads. The United States has 794 vehicles and 1,652 nuclear warheads.
It just so happens that today, Russia’s strategic nuclear forces (SNF) are even more advanced in comparison with those of the US, as they ensure parity on warheads with a significantly smaller number of carriers of strategic nuclear weapons. This gap between Russia and the United States may only grow in the future, given the fact that Russian defense officials promised to rearm Russia’s SNF with new generation missiles. Read the rest of this entry »