anti-aircraft gun, basketball diplomacy, Defense Minister, Dennis Rodman, DNA, execution, foreign policy, Hermit Kingdom, Kim Jong Un, Michael Jordan, North Korea, nuclear weapons, South Korea, traitor
South Korean news reports, in late April this year, that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un executed his Defense Minister, Hyon Yong-chol, might have been back-page copy but for the kicker — it was done with an anti-aircraft gun.
This assertion, though briefly diverting (Did they pump him with helium and let him float into range?), quickly lost altitude as South Korean intelligence hedged. And, indeed, as I had already discovered on yet another Agency-sponsored secret mission to the Hermit Kingdom, it was an error, but one that obscured a far more startling truth:
Hyon Yong-chol Was Executed By an Atomic Bomb!
Anticipating skepticism, I’ll explain:
First, we have to understand why Hyon was executed. It was not because, as South Korea reported, he had fallen asleep at a high-level meeting, as execution-worthy as that might be.
Rather, it was because, at a cocktail party, he had tipsily trashed Kim’s idol, Michael Jordan, saying Bill Russell could have stuffed the ball down Jordan’s throat and up his ass all in one move, and, anyway, basketball is a stupid game, fit only for geeks.
This would have been bad enough, but Hyon’s denigration of the player, and game, that Kim worships was seen as a grievous, if veiled, attack on Kim’s seminal diplomatic breakthrough with America — Dennis Rodman’s February 2013 visit to Pyongyang.
OK, you may say, Hyon was asking for it, but, though Kim is not your normal leader, why would he want to give the world more proof that he’s bonkers, and, incidentally, waste a perfectly good bomb that he could have dropped on Tokyo or Topeka?
Fair enough, but what Kim did was perfectly consistent with his overall strategy:
The regime’s survival relies on keeping everyone else off-balance — threaten/negotiate; bluster/moderate; accuse/conciliate. Rational consistency gets you nothing from a universally hostile world.
These tactics are meaningless without a credible deterrent and a demonstration of willingness to use it. North Korea has the weapons and the delivery systems, but its enemies, which may have become complacent about its nuclear capability, occasionally need a wake-up call.
Doing something truly insane with a nuclear weapon, but not in a way that would provoke counter-attack, underscores the regime’s profitably dangerous unpredictability. And what better way to hint that there are lots more bombs where that came from than to use one the way a cartoon plutocrat uses a $100 bill to light his cigar!?
Finally, Kim must have felt that, given the number of traitors that keep popping up despite the mounting pile of bullet-riddled bodies, he needed to send a slightly stronger domestic message.
Well and good, you may respond, but do we have proof that a nuclear device was detonated around the time Hyon was said to have been executed?
We do — seismic proof of a nuclear explosion right then, at the end of April, the time of Hyon’s execution, though, to be fair, Kim does detonate nuclear devices the way American kids set off cherry bombs on the 4th.
What clinches it is our own atmospheric measurements, taken high over Washington state in early May, that show faint but unmistakable indicators of Hyon’s DNA (we have prior samples; don’t ask), yet another toxic Asian emission, riding the winds, wafting the ashes of a highly radioactive former Defense Minister down onto our native soil.