Executed North Korean Defense Chief Accused of Napping During Kim Jong Un Event

Kim Jong Un
This year alone, Kim has ordered the execution of 15 senior officials. Kyodo/Reuters

On Tuesday evening, news broke of the execution of North Korean defense chief Hyon Yong Chol, reportedly by anti-aircraft gun.

A new report from Reuters finds Hyon was put to death following charges of treason. He was arrested in April. The North Korean government claims the defense chief fell asleep at a military event attended by leader Kim Jong Un, disobeyed his orders and expressed frustration with the leader.

Several hundred people watched the execution, the National Intelligence Service of South Korea said. Experts believe the 66-year-old chief was shot at the Kanggon Military Training Area, standing 100 feet away from the anti-aircraft gun.

This year alone, Kim has ordered the execution of 15 senior officials. He has had about 70 officials put to death in total, all on claims that they somehow disrespected his authority.

"There is no clear or present danger to Kim Jong Un's leadership or regime stability, but if this continues to happen into next year, then we should seriously start to think about revising our scenarios on North Korea," Michael Madden, a North Korea expert with the think tank 38 North, told Reuters.

As with all reports from within North Korea, news of Hyon's execution is nearly impossible to verify. Experts consulted by Reuters believe the report is accurate. The news was first reported by Yonhap, a South Korean news wire service with a history of credible insight into the North Korean intelligence world.