North Korea’s Defense Minister, Hyon Yong-Chol, is the latest high-level official to be publicly executed according to South Korea’s National Intelligence Agency. His offenses include failing to obey orders, expressing discontent, and even nodding off during a rally with Kim Jong-Un present. The execution is leading some experts to speculate that North Korea’s regime is unsustainable, and may only have a few years left.
According to CNN, the state executed Hyon Yong-Chol “around April 30th” using anti-aircraft guns at a military school with hundreds of people in attendance. In October, the U.S.-based Committee for Human Rights in Korea published satellite imagery believed to be the official execution grounds, complete with anti-aircraft guns. The AFP reports such executions are reserved only for high-ranking officials.
The official charge was treason, although experts have a difficult time pinpointing exactly how Yong-Chol crossed the line.
Kim Gwang-lim, chairman of the National Assembly Intelligence Committee in South Korea, explained that Yong-Chol didn’t always follow orders from the young Kim. Likewise, he expressed discontent with the regime.
The most specific detail the chairman gave was that the Defense Minister once nodded off in a large rally organized by the dictator.
Hyon Yong-Chol is just one of many officials to face execution during Kim Jong-Un’s short three-year reign, but his position makes his death significant, along with the fact that he survived up until now.
Professor Charles Armstrong at Columbia University explained, “This is a big deal. He was a survivor.”
“He was from Kim Jong Un’s father’s regime. He made it through the transition. He was a very high profile military man.”
Hyon was even trusted with high-profile diplomacy. The Minister was sent to Russia in April, partially in preparation for Kim Jong-Un’s appearance at Russia’s March 9th parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis.
Professor Yang Moo-Jin from the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul even said, “Hyon was seen as one of the three closest military officials to Kim Jong-Un.”
Nevertheless, being close is no guarantee of survival.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Jong-Un even allegedly poisoned his own aunt for complaining about the death of her husband Jang Song Thaek, another victim of the regime’s purge.
In Hyon Yong-Chol’s case, the former general might also have been punished for other failures. Some speculate he messed up the trip to Russia based on reports that he was meant to secure a weapons deal in exchange for Jong-Un’s presence in Russia.
The dictator declined an invitation to attend Putin’s parade at the last minute, citing North Korean domestic issues.
In any case, Hyon’s execution might be the latest sign of instability for the regime. A high-level defector told CNN that the executions have created a “climate of fear” within the government that ultimately undermines Kim Jong-Un’s grip on the country.
“During his first three years in power, hundreds of the elite have been executed,” the unnamed defector reported.
He speculated Kim only has about three years of tyranny left before groups within the government replace him with someone more stable.
Experts like Armstrong claim any challenge to the Kim regime is a monumental task, but with high-level officials like Hyon Yong-Chol being killed off, anything is possible.
[Image Credit: The Guardian]