North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is famous in Western media for executing people that fall out of his favor – though some seem to have found the knack of returning from the dead.
Reports regularly surface on Kim’s latest means of execution, ranging from the relatively mundane firing squad to the theatrical, or even cartoonish – such as feeding foes to packs of starving dogs or roasting them with flame-throwers.
The pop star and ‘former lover’
The most recent case is North Korean popstar Hyon Song-wol, spotted alive and well in South Korea on Sunday despite having reportedly been killed in a purge of singers, musicians and dancers back in 2013.
The performer was reportedly executed along with 11 others, including other members of her group, the Moranbong Band, the head of Unhasu Orchestra, and several dancers from the Wangjaesan Light Music Band.
The 12 victims had allegedly been accused of, among other offenses, recording themselves having sex and selling the footage. The reported victims hadn’t been seen since, until Hyon Song-wol, with whom Kim had reportedly been romantically entwined, publicly resurfaced on Saturday to inspect Olympic venues in South Korea ahead of the Winter Games.
The military chief
Back in 2016, N. Korean army chief Ri Yong Gil was reportedly executed for “factionalism, misuse of authority, and corruption.” As with a lot of information emanating from the isolated country, this turned out to false.
South Korean intelligence officials seemed to take his removal as head of the army as confirmation of his execution. The only problem was that a couple of months later Ri Yong Gil apparently returned from the dead, with an array of new senior-level positions, when he attended the Workers’ Party Congress in May that year.
The uncle ‘executed by a pack of dogs’
Apparently Kim really has it in for his older relatives, if Western media reports are to believed. So much so, it seems, that Kim was willing to execute his own uncle, by setting a pack of 120 starving dogs on him as part of yet another purge back in 2014.
Though it appears that Jang Song Thaek was indeed executed, the ‘ripped apart by dogs’ story was a complete fabrication that first raised its head on a satirical Chinese microblogging website.
The aunt ‘poisoned on request’
Further to ‘feeding his uncle to dogs’, as mentioned above, he reportedly then turned his murderous gaze towards his aunt, Kim Kyong-hui.
Kyong-hui, Kim’s father’s sister and the wife of uncle Jang Song Thaek, was reportedly executed by poisoning on the leader’s orders.
However, once again these reports turned out to be false. South Korean news agency Yonhap reported last year that she is very much alive, although she is being treated for illnesses ranging from depression to cancer.