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.
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.