13 May 2015

North Korea executes defence chief with anti-aircraft gun

North Korea’s defence minister has reportedly been executed. Hyon Yong Chol was killed with an anti-aircraft gun for crimes including disobeying Kim Jong-un and falling asleep during a military event.

According to Seoul’s National Intelligence Service, Hyon was executed at a firing range at the Kanggon Military Training Area, 22km north of Pyongyang.

The area is known as an execution site, with the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea saying recently that the range was used for executions by ZPU-4 anti-aircraft guns in October. Analysis of satellite images show that the target is just 30m away from the weapons, which have a range of 8,000 metres.

The defence minister’s death came three days after his arrest last month and was witnessed by hundreds of spectators. It is believed that he did not receive a trial.

This is not the first political execution this year, with Kim Jong-un ordering the deaths of 15 senior officials in the past few months. Since he came to power in 2011, around 70 officials have been executed.

In 2013, Kim executed his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, once considered the second most powerful man in Pyongyang, for committing crimes that were damaging to the economy.