May 14, 2015 12:48
North Korean Army chief Hyon Yong-chol was executed for treason on April 30, the National Intelligence Service told lawmakers here Wednesday.
According to the NIS, Hyon was caught dozing off during a military rally on April 24-25 and failed to obey or complained about Kim's orders. Hyon was apparently executed by anti-aircraft gun as hundreds of people watched the gruesome spectacle at a military academy in Pyongyang.
The NIS said that several other key North Korean officials were purged over the last six months, including Ma Won-chun, the director of a new agency under the North's National Defense Commission overseeing the construction industry, Pyon In-son, a vice minister of the People's Armed Forces and central party finance and accounting cadre Han Kwang-sang.
The weapon used to execute Hyon was a FLAK gun, which would have blown his body to smithereens. Kim apparently executed his uncle Jang Song-taek the same way back in late 2013. One of the offenses Jang was found guilty of was applauding Kim too feebly and lounging in his seat during one of Kim's speeches. Jang was executed four days after his arrest and Hyon three days, but where Jang was dragged before a kangaroo court, there no trial at all before Hyon's execution.
Kim has apparently executed around 70 of his officials since he took power more than three years ago. Some were executed by flame thrower in order to leave no trace. Witnesses to the grisly executions must not turn their heads or shed tears and must write essays on how they felt after watching the horrific events. This is too barbaric for words.
The reign of terror stems from Kim’s insecurity about his grip on power because he inherited his position. This is evident in the frequency of demotions and promotions among his top officials. But this type of rule is certain to have serious repercussions.
There are limits to human endurance. Skepticism about Kim's leadership ability is apparently spreading in the North, and top officials are probably the most vulnerable to such suspicions.
Suzanne Scholte of the North Korea Freedom Coalition always says North Korea will soon collapse. This never seemed very plausible, but it is beginning to now. Seoul must prepare for this possibility.
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