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Report: North Korea Defense Chief Executed For Falling Asleep At Meeting

The top defense secretary in North Korea was allegedly executed in a hail of anti-aircraft fire, South Korean news outlets say, for falling asleep at a meeting where Kim Jong-un was speaking.

Hyon Yong-chol had served as a general in North Korea since 2010 before he was executed in front of hundreds of witnesses at a military school in Pyongyang April 30, BBC reported.

As North Korea’s equivalent of a Secretary of Defense, Hyon was very close to Kim Jong-un, even serving as a pallbearer at the funeral of former North Korea leader, Kim Jong-il in 2011.

The news of the execution came from a South Korean spy agency, and was reported by the Yonhap News Agency, the largest news provider in South Korea. The DPRK is notoriously tough for intelligence agencies to penetrate, however, so skepticism still surrounds the details of any execution.

Certainly, if Hyon is not seen in public again, it’s safe to say he was either executed or banished to one of the north’s many prison camps.

Earlier this year, the D.C.-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea released a report showing satellite imagery that likely captured the moments just before a similar execution by anti-aircraft guns took place in October.

The report, showing imagery taken at a military training area slightly north of Pyongyang, noted unusual activity when anti-aircraft guns were placed on a small arms firing range.

In the report it says the presence of anti-aircraft guns on the range, given its size and type, is not only highly impractical, but would be destructive to the range to the point that it would require reconstruction.

“The most plausible explanation of the scene captured in the October 7th satellite image is a gruesome public execution. Anyone who has witnessed the damage one single U.S. .50 caliber round does to the human body will shudder just trying to imagine a battery of 24 heavy machine guns being fired at human beings. Bodies would be nearly pulverized,” the report concludes.

In 2013, the New York Times reported that two lieutenants loyal to Kim Jong-un’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, were executed by similar means with anit-aircraft guns over a supposed powergrab of lucrative North Korean exports.

Two days later the uncle, himself, was executed by more traditional means.

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