A North Korean official widely deemed as the
nation’s second most powerful figure has been missing
for some time, raising speculation that he has been executed.
The apparent disappearance of Vice Marshal Hwang Pyong-so was
first reported in November, with South Korea’s
National Intelligence Service telling lawmakers in Seoul that
he’d been “punished” for having an “impure” attitude about
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
“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,” one South Korean paper reported.
Hwang was reportedly last seen in public on October 13.
But there is some reason to believe that he may have only been
reprimanded, and not killed, as the New York
Times reports that the phrases “purge” and “execution”
were not used in the intelligence report.
that he has vanished before, but not for this long.
Hwang was absent for three weeks in December of 2015, a
departure a South Korean media outlet suggested was for medical
The belief that Hwang has been executed is largely based on
both the amount of time he’s been away and Kim Jong-un’s
history of handling officials who he believes have betrayed
The leader has reportedly had numerous officials and even
family members killed for reasons ranging from falling asleep
in a meeting to perceived betrayal.
The individuals killed include Kim’s uncle General Jang
Song-Thaek, who was declared a traitor.