Colonel in the Department of the General Staff accused of graffiti executed by firing squad

Lee Sang Yong  |  2018-05-10 16:31
A colonel in the Department of the General Staff accused of defacing North Koreas April 25 House of Culture with graffiti critical of the Kim Jong Un regime was recently publicly executed, according to sources in North Korea. 

A high-ranking member (colonel) of the General Staff Operations Department and another individual (who was implicated in the graffiti incident) were executed by automatic rifles at the Kanggun Military Academys firing range, said a Pyongyang-based source in a phone call with Daily NK. He was accused of masterminding the defacing of the April 25 House of Culture with graffiti criticizing the regime and was summarily executed. 

The source further added that the execution was conducted quietly in front of high-ranking cadres from the Ministry of State Security and the military. The colonels family was taken away somewhere, likely a political prison camp. 

Daily NK previously reported that graffiti criticizing the Kim Jong Un regime had been found on the walls of the April 25 House of Culture at 4 AM on March 1. The North Korean authorities expended significant efforts in identifying the culprit by restricting movement in and out of the area, increasing security checks and analyzing the handwriting used, while also using the incident as an opportunity to ramp up security in the area. 

The executed high-level official was in charge of checking the progress of soldier training at military camps in Ryanggang and Kangwon provinces and reported to the military command. He had reportedly defaced many buildings with graffiti criticizing the Kim Jong Un regime over the past three years as he traveled from place to place, said a separate source in Pyongyang who confirmed the incident and execution.

There has been no confirmation whether the accused admitted to having drawn the graffiti over the last three years, or whether the accusation was fabricated by the North Korean authorities. If the accused was in fact involved in defacing buildings with anti-regime graffiti, it may mean he was involved in other anti-regime activity.

Daily NK and other media have reported on an incident involving the defacing of Kim Il Sung portraits on 5,000 North Korean won bills with scribbles calling for the overthrow of Kim Jong Un, along with an incident involving graffiti critical of the recent Seventh Party Congress. 

The North Korean authorities claimed during the run up to the execution that the accused had received black money and committed the traitorous acts while temporarily blinded by cash, said the source. 

Black money referred to by the source is likely the so-called money for special activities provided by South Koreas National Intelligence Service (NIS) to dissidents in North Korea that the North Korean authorities have long complained about. The North Korean authorities have ultimately tried to use the incident to firm up ideological solidarity against the enemy, or South Korea. 

Following Kim Jong Uns rise to power, the regime has sometimes resorted to using anti-aircraft weapons in executions to spread fear among the population. South Koreas NSA previously reported that the North Korean authorities used an anti-aircraft gun to dispatch North Korean Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol in 2015. 

It is unclear why the North Korean authorities did not use an anti-aircraft gun to execute the colonel, who was similarly accused of committing traitorous acts against the state. Each person was shot with 10 bullets (during the execution by firing squad). It was still a savage way to die, said the additional source. 

The authorities likely wanted to make a statement that those who commit acts of treason will meet this kind of end. 
 
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