A senior North Korean military officer who told colleagues they no longer needed to “suffer and tighten our belts to make rockets and nuclear weapons” has been executed by firing squad, according to reports in dissident media.
The officer was named by the Seoul-based Daily NK news website as Hyon Ju-song, a 56-year-old lieutenant general who was serving as director of the services inspection division of the People’s Armed Forces.
Lt. Gen. Hyon appears to have become excited at the possibility that the detente that has taken place on the Korean Peninsula this year will develop into full-blown peace and got ahead of official party policy.
Quoting one of the organization’s “citizen reporters” in the North, Daily NK said Lt. Gen. Hyon had been “on the fast track to successes within the military, but was arrested after making unguarded comments during a visit to one of the regime’s most important facilities.
“While checking the oil supplies for the Sohae Satellite Launching Station during the comprehensive inspections of wartime supplies on April 10, Hyon stated, ‘We no longer have to suffer and tighten our belts to make rockets or nuclear weapons’. This was seen as an abuse of authority and a treasonous statement that opposed the Party’s military-first policy”, the site reported.
Lt. Gen. Hyon also gave out 1 ton of fuel, 1,278 lbs of rice and 1,653 lbs of corn to fellow officers at the site and their families, an act which state prosecutor decided violated the Ten Principles for the Establishment of the Party’s One Ideology System.
Judges drawn from the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party, the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of the Armed Forces found Lt. Gen. Hyon guilty of abuse of authority, profiting the enemy and anti-party acts.
Another source in Pyongyang reported that the case went all the way to Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, who ordered the officer’s execution in the grounds that, “We must nip the bud of ideological poisoning”.
Lt. Gen. Hyon was reportedly executed at a firing range at the Kang Kon Military Academy. The sentence suggests that despite outwardly appearing more open to engagement with nations until recently considered its enemies, the North Korean regime continues to come down hard on any hints of dissent among its citizens.