In a story that is bound to send the stock prices of energy drinks soaring, North Korea’s Defense Chief, Hyon Yong Chol, was executed after falling asleep at a meeting where Kim Jung-un was in attendance. Dozing off was not Chol’s first offense and apparently tensions between the two men had been noticeable since Kim came to power in 2011. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the North Korean leader is guilty of literal overkill, having used an anti-aircraft gun to carry out the death sentence.

Carried out at a firing range located near the Kanggon Military Training Area, hundreds of witnesses watched the execution. Kim forced the people to attend because he wanted to make clear what happened to those who opposed him. Chol had established himself as a vocal opponent to some of the young ruler’s policies and had even disobeyed direct orders from Kim. Perhaps this is why the dictator ordered the defense chief’s body placed only 100 feet away from the anti-aircraft gun, which has the ability to shoot at targets located further than 26,000 feet away.

Leading up to his death, the Defense Chief had continued to be involved in official government business. In early April he attended a security conference in Russia. North Korea’s state media also reported that Chol had attended an event in late April. In light of the recent news about his death, however, it appears that the event referenced in that news report included an anti-aircraft gun. Information from the South Korean National Intelligence Service reported his arrest and imprisonment toward the end of April. Then, three days later, his execution occurred. As is normal when Kim decides a punishment, there was no need to involve the judicial system.

Hyon Yong Chol looking at an anti-aircraft gun

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Steve Pame

Steve Pame

A part-time graduate student and high school teacher, Steve enjoys just about anything that makes him forget all the student loans he'll never be able to pay back. He enjoys visiting his extended family, spread throughout the world, whenever he has a chance.