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.
One donor – Rilin Enterprises – pledged $2 million in 2013 to the Clinton Foundation’s endowment. The company is a privately-held Chinese construction and trade conglomerate and run by billionaire Wang Wenliang, who is also a delegate to the Chinese parliament. Public records show the firm has spent $1.4 million since 2012, lobbying Congress and the State Department. The firm owns a strategic port along the border with North Korea and was also one of the contractors that built the Chinese embassy in Washington.
That contract is a direct tie to the Chinese government, according to Jim Mann, who has written several books on China’s relationship with the U.S. With “embassy construction, one of the most important tasks is making sure that there are no bugs there,” he said. “So you want to have the closest security and intelligence connections with and approval of the person or company that’s going to build your embassy.”
The tie to the Chinese government is troubling enough, but the CBS News report doesn’t elaborate upon the firm’s ties to North Korea. The port owned by Rilin in Dandong, China has long been suspected of helping North Korea evade western sanctions. Not three days ago, the Washington Post published this report on it:
DANDONG, China — The textile factories producing “made in China” goods from compounds just across the Yalu River from North Korea offer a glimpse into a hidden world that is helping North Korea’s economy to thrive….(read more)
‘When Kim Jong Il would arrive in his vehicle, 60- to 70-year old advisors would run away and throw themselves onto the grass…they wanted to hide from him’Posted: November 7, 2014
North Korean Defector: ‘I was Kim Jong Il’s Bodyguard’
SEOUL — Head butting stacked tiles, smashing a slab of granite on your chest with a mallet, breaking light bulbs with one finger. All vital qualifications if you want a job protecting the elite of North Korea.
Propaganda footage from North Korean TV shows a staggering array of physical feats, using taekwondo and other martial arts. Visually impressive — although it’s not certain how the skills would keep an armed assassin at bay.
“As power was handed down to the third generation, it became crueler. Kim Jong Un has created loyalty, but it is fake and based on fear.”
Lee Young-guk was bodyguard to the late Kim Jong Il for 10 years until just before he took control of North Korea. He says he went through very similar training before he was considered fit to protect a leader.
“Lee knew the North Korean leader was cruel when he was serving him. But, he says, it was only after he escaped to South Korea, his new home, that he realized Kim was a true dictator — as his father Kim Il Sung had been before him, and his son and current leader Kim Jong Un is now.”
“It’s tough training,” says Lee. “But why do it? It’s to build up loyalty. A handgun won’t win a war and taekwondo serves nothing but the spirit, but it creates loyalty.”
In an interview at CNN’s Seoul bureau, Lee says his training also involved more traditional methods. Target practice, physical, tactical and weight training, swimming and using a boat. But that’s only part of the preparation. Read the rest of this entry »
According to the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, the pair questioned an order from the dictator to hand over control of a business to the military. Sources told the newspaper Kim was “upset” when they said they needed to check with “Director Jang” first.
The leader’s uncle, who was removed from power and killed as part of a recent high-profile purge, was head of the ruling Workers’ Party administrative department.
His close aides, first deputy director Ri Ryong-ha and another deputy Jang Su-gil, were among the first prominent figures to be executed in late November.
According the Yomiuri’s source, Kim was “very drunk” when he ordered they be killed.
Kim Jong-un’s execution of his uncle has been seen as a brutal demonstration of who is in power. But behind the scenes, are Kim Kyung-hui and Ri Sol-ju, Kim Jong-un’s aunt and wife, pulling the strings in North Korea?
At the funeral of Kim Jong-il, marching directly behind Kim Jong-un, the newly anointed Dear Leader; on an escalator, visiting a shopping centre to glorify the triumph of the regime; dressed in the uniform of a full general whispering words of wisdom into the ear of the world’s youngest head of state.
Now Jang, Mr Kim’s uncle and one of North Korea’s most powerful men, has been erased.
The reclusive communist state confirmed his execution on Thursday. The 30-year-old Mr Kim, it appeared, was demonstrating in no uncertain terms who really ran the show.
But another tantalising suggestion is crystallising. Was Jang’s death by firing squad a sign that the real power behind the throne lies with the two women in Mr Kim’s life?
Expert: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s once-powerful uncle has been purged before, but has never done a perp walk.