June 15, 2015 10:29
North Korea has confirmed to its overseas missions that Army chief Hyon Yong-chol was executed. It also emerged that several other high-ranking North Korean brass have disappeared since Hyon's execution by FLAK gun.
A source in Beijing said the North Korean regime recently informed embassies in China and elsewhere of Hyon's execution and listed several instances of his "disobedience."
The source suggested there is an element of truth in rumors that Hyon was executed for dozing off during a meeting hosted by leader Kim Jong-un. "Kim believes dozing off or getting distracted in a meeting is worse than opposing his decisions," the source said.
Hyon was reportedly unable to answer a question Kim asked in the meeting because he had been asleep and also disobeyed an order the leader gave, though what the order was is not known.
The state-run Rodong Sinmun daily carried a photo of Hyon looking asleep while Kim spoke at a military rally on April 26, and the Army chief did not appear alongside Kim in a photo of participants in a workers' rally on May 1.
But the reason for Hyon's execution seems to have been the disregard for Kim's leadership such behavior revealed, especially since Kim hand-picked him as Army chief back in 2014 in ongoing efforts to bring the unruly military under control.
The fact that Hyon was executed within days without waiting for approval from the Workers Party, just like former Army chief Ri Yong-ho and eminence grise Jang Song-taek, demonstrates just how volatile Kim has become, according to experts.
Another source said several senior military officers who used to be spotted frequently on Kim's field inspections have disappeared since Hyon's execution, either because they too were purged or because they are being investigated.
But pundits say this purge will probably be smaller than the bloodshed that followed Jang's execution, since Hyon had no comparable network of cronies throughout the regime and was not accused of treason.
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