A key member of Kim Jong Un‘s inner circle once described as the “second-most powerful man in North Korea” mysteriously vanished from public life recently, sparking rumors he was executed by a North Korean death squad following allegations of bribery, Telegraph reports.
Hwang Pyong-so, a vice marshal who held the most senior position in North Korea’s military, hasn’t been seen in public since October 13.
Kim had previously punished his enemies via a variety of gruesome methods, including shooting them with anti-aircraft weaponry at a close distance and feeding them to a pack of ravenous dogs.
News about Hwang’s troubles within Kim’s regime emerged in mid-November when South Korea’s spy agency reported the top aide and his deputy, Kim Won-hong, were expelled from the military’s General Politico Bureau and “punished”.
A rare inspection of the bureau was conducted after reports of “impure attitude” toward the volatile regime. The spy agency said it was looking into details about their punishment.
According to Telegraph, South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo said:
If Hwang was indeed kicked out of the Workers’ Party, it would practically mean the end of his political career, and possibly his life, though it is unknown whether or not he is still alive.
Kim’s visit to the country’s Mount Paektu over the weekend hinted at Hwang’s possible execution. Kim usually visits the sacred mountain before making significant decisions like his father and grandfather had done.
The leader previously visited the mountain with his aides in November 2013, a month before ordering the deaths of several officials, including Jang, who was branded “worse than a dog” and a “despicable human scum.” The bodies were then lit on fire with flamethrowers.