North Korean defense chief executed: NIS

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North Korean defense chief executed: NIS

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North Korean Defense Minister Hyon Yong-chol with his eyes closed at a military event last month. [Rodong Sinmun]

North Korea’s defense chief, Hyon Yong-chol, was executed at the end of last month, South Korea's top spy agency confirmed Wednesday.

Hyon, the chief of North Korea's People's Armed Forces, was executed publically by a firing squad on April 30, according to the National Intelligence Service (NIS) in a closed report to a group of National Assembly lawmakers in Seoul.

He was said to be accused of treason and disloyalty to the North Korean leader.

The execution reportedly took place after Hyon, considered No. 2 in the North Korean military after its leader Kim Jong-un, failed to show up at a military event led by Kim.

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Hyon Yong-chol

The NIS said that the purging of Hyon appears linked to his expressing discontent about the North Korean leader, not carrying out his commands and even falling asleep at a military training led by Kim.

Hyon, a four-star general who had served as chief of the general staff of the Army, became the country’s defense minister last June.

Jang Song-thaek, the North Korean ruler’s once-powerful uncle, was shockingly ousted and executed in December 2013.


BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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