On May 13, several South Korean MPs said at a session that North Korean Defense Minister Hyon Yong-chol was executed in late April after falling asleep at an event that was attended by head of state Kim Jong-un. The details were eyebrow-raising to say the least; the Defense Minister, who was a very close colleague to Kim Jong-un, was supposedly executed at a shooting range with an anti-aircraft gun in front of a large crowd. That said, the fact that he was executed might not even be true: South Korean intelligence, the National Intelligence Service (NIS), stated that there was no confirmation of Yong-chol’s execution, let alone the method of execution. They do know that he has been purged, and that while some reports claim he was executed, it might not be the case.
While the story of Yong-chol's execution went viral across the Internet, this isn't the first time something like this has gone wild. In early 2014, Kim Jong-un executed his own uncle. That was confirmed by both the NIS and North Korean state media, the reported nature of his execution (though not publically disclosed by either entity) went viral on the internet via multiple platforms; it was stated that his uncle was fed to 120 hungry, rabid dogs. An interesting fact-finding piece by the Washington Post shows that the original source of the story was a Hong Kong newspaper that did not mention any sources, and is among the least credible sources there. Not that we’re giving the North Korean state the benefit of the doubt, but maybe they didn’t use an anti-aircraft gun to execute Hyon Yong-chol.