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Hyon Yong-Chol


According to South Korea’s spy agency, General Hyon Yong-chol, the North Korean defense minister, has been executed for showing disloyalty to Kim Jong-un.

The spy agency has told South Korean parliament that Gen. Hyon Yong-chol was killed on April 30 by anti-aircraft fire in front of an audience of hundreds, the Yonhap news agency reports.

It said Hyon Yong-chol had fallen asleep during an event attended by Kim Jong-un and had not carried out instructions.Hyon Yong chol North Korea defense minister executed

Reports from North Korea are impossible to independently confirm.

According to analysis site NK News, Hyon Yong-chol had last appeared in state media a day before the alleged execution date.

Hyon Yong-chol is believed to have been a general since 2010, though little is known about him. He served on the committee for late leader Kim Jong-il’s funeral in December 2011, an indication of his growing influence.

He was appointed defense minister in 2014.

Kim Jong-un has conducted a series of purges of close officials since becoming North Korea’s leader.

The most notable was his uncle, Chang Song-thaek – once North Korea’s second-most powerful figure.

Chang Song-thaek was arrested in December 2013 in front of a party meeting, found guilty of treason and immediately executed. The move was widely seen as the young Kim Jong-un stamping his authority.

Hyon Yong-Chol has been appointed as North Korea’s new vice-marshal, the official KCNA news agency says.

The move comes a day after the army chief, Ri Yong-Ho, was removed from his post “due to illness”.

The decision was made by the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the National Defense Commission of North Korea, KCNA said.

The statement did not say if Hyon Yong-Chol was taking over the top military job from Ri Yong-Ho.

Hyon Yong-Chol has been appointed as North Korea’s new vice-marshal

Hyon Yong-Chol has been appointed as North Korea’s new vice-marshal

Little is known of Hyon Yong-Chol, who is reported to be a member of the party’s 120-member central committee. He is now one of four vice-marshals in the army.

Ri Yong-Ho, 69, who was also a vice-marshal, was vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission and held top posts in the ruling Workers’ Party.

Hyon Yong-Chol is believed to have been appointed a general in 2010 but is not currently part of the military commission chaired by young leader Kim Jong-Un, reports said.

He appears to be the latest rising star in North Korean politics.

Ri Yong-Ho’s removal took many North Korea observers by surprise, with widespread skepticism at the official explanation for the move.

He was seen as a key figure in the recent transition of power from Kim Jong-Il, who died in December 2011, to his son.

He was made army chief three years ago under Kim Jong-Il and appeared regularly at state occasions beside the late Kim.

He was also one of seven top officials to accompany the younger Kim as he followed the hearse containing his father’s body at his state funeral.

A spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry told reporters that Ri Yong-Ho’s departure was “very unusual”.

Some analysts say ”illness” is not an uncommon pretext in Pyongyang when a member of the elite leadership is removed.

Now in power for six months, Kim Jong-Un is rumored to be promoting a new generation of officials, and is being carefully watched for signs that he will take the country in a new direction.