Execution by mortar round

I was wondering exactly how they would do this when I saw the headline.

A North Korean army minister was executed with a mortar round for reportedly drinking and carousing during the official mourning period after Kim Jong-il\’s death.

So, do they stand him over one and fire it off? Or stick him out on the range and fire at him?

Kim Chol, vice minister of the army, was taken into custody earlier this year on the orders of Kim Jong-un, who assumed the leadership after the death of his father in December.

On the orders of Kim Jong-un to leave \”no trace of him behind, down to his hair,\” according to South Korean media, Kim Chol was forced to stand on a spot that had been zeroed in for a mortar round and \”obliterated.\”

Are mortars actually that accurate?

27 thoughts on “Execution by mortar round”

  1. Presumably you get a second (or third …) shot if the first doesn’t finish the job.

    Unless the North Korean army is that cash-strapped that it can only afford one round per execution. In which case, you can motivate the executioner by saying he will likewise be executed if he fails to do the job in one. Once they can afford a new mortar round, of course.

    This is now, of course James Bond’s next mission and I assert copyright thus. Tamper with the North Korean mortar factory to ensure all rounds are unpredictably inaccurate. This will simultaneously bankrupt North Korea (ok, bankrupt them even more) and result in the execution of the entire North Korean army. Job done.

  2. And I thought the Kims’ preferred method of execution was in the gilded shark tank in their patent secret underground dictators’ lair. Or was that just South Park?

  3. That’s a terrible way to fulfill the requirements. Firing squad and either incinerate the body, or make like Walter White and drop it in a tank of hydroflouric acid.

  4. Mortars aren’t really that accurate. Of course, if the NK’s have some of those Soviet 240mm mortars, it really wouldn’t matter!

  5. I think that if you want to execute someone by mortar rounds while actually shooting them, you’d get a battery (or whatever is the correct English term for many of them) and concentrate fire on one spot. Mortars are accurate to a few meters. Perhaps this is good training for the guys who use them.

    But a single mortar round surely does not obliterate a target so that no trace would be left of him.

  6. At Arnhem, Major Robert Cain disabled a number of tanks by firing a mortar at their tracks (after he had run out of PIAT rounds).

    If a WWII mortar could be fired accurately enough (in battle conditions) to take the tracks off a tank, I would have thought a modern mortar could be fired accurately enough (under ideal conditions) to obliterate a human being.

  7. Or they could just give the guy a live mortar round, retreat to a safe distance and, with use of a megaphone, tell him to unscrew the cap on the top.

  8. Maj Cain was, IIRC, firing the mortar from the hip rather than in the more traditional Garryowen style… The accuracy of a mortar fired as a mortar rather than as a pseudo-RPG is indeed not in the “warheads on foreheads” league.

  9. How boring.

    What’s wrong with: That’s South Korea, here’s the minefield, and here’s the bloke with a machine gun if you come back.

    Give the chappie a sporting chance.

  10. They told him to run to where he thought the shell would land, and being a communist from birth he did what he was told.

    Still, we all know the UK is JUST AS BAD as North Korea, because some juvenile Lefties at the Grauniad told us so.

  11. Amatuers! The british executed rebels in the indian mutiny of the 1860s by tying them over the barrels of cannon and firing away.

    Once again the British show the world how its done!

  12. could they possibly be, err making it up for public consumption? You know like the glorious leader’ s 38 under par round of 34 at the Pyongyang golf club grand opening including 11 holes in one?

  13. Possibly a mis-translation of a more suitable weapon, should read machine-gun, anti-tank rifle or whatever – also possibly simply not true or far from the truth.

  14. John b is almost there.

    This is one of those Asian language things. E.g. ‘Derighted to meet your rubbery wife’.

    The NoKos said ‘We kill him with water’, and the w came out as m.

  15. So Much for Subtlety

    Simon Jester – “At Arnhem, Major Robert Cain disabled a number of tanks by firing a mortar at their tracks (after he had run out of PIAT rounds).”

    How many rounds did he fire?

    “If a WWII mortar could be fired accurately enough (in battle conditions) to take the tracks off a tank, I would have thought a modern mortar could be fired accurately enough (under ideal conditions) to obliterate a human being.”

    If. Mortars typically have short barrels and no rifling. They are not the sort of thing you can hit individuals with unless you try often or are very lucky. On the other hand they do have thin shell walls and so carry a lot of explosive. A 120 mm mortar round is supposed to have about as much as a 155 mm shell. So a near hit would do in most cases. But what is near? At maximum range a 120 mm mortar might have a CEP of 120 metres. That is, half the rounds fired fall within 120 metres of the target.

  16. So Much For Subtlety

    TomJ – “Maj Cain was, IIRC, firing the mortar from the hip rather than in the more traditional Garryowen style…”

    The Japanese had a dinky little 50 mm mortar in Word War Two that the American’s called a knee mortar. Rumour has it several American soldiers tried to fire it resting on their leg and so broke a bone.

    Anyone who picks up a more hefty British 3 inch mortar and tries to fire it from the hip is likely, I think, to be in the market for a new hip.

  17. @SMFS,

    Fascinated to learn that we have, in effect, confidence intervals for munitions (though I suppose it’s obvious when you think about it). Also that the military is happy with a 50% confidence interval rather than a 95% confidence interval.

  18. SMFS – Cain was using a 2″ mortar, according to Wikipedia (who in turn seem to have got their facts from the London Gazette).

  19. So Much for Subtlety

    Surreptitious Evil – “As, of course, did the PIAT he’d run out of rounds for.”

    Well it didn’t really have a barrel at all did it? Sort of a trough. But he had, as you said, run out of rounds for it. And I doubt he would have wanted to fire that from the hip either.

    23 JamesV – “Fascinated to learn that we have, in effect, confidence intervals for munitions (though I suppose it’s obvious when you think about it). Also that the military is happy with a 50% confidence interval rather than a 95% confidence interval.”

    Well you could get a 95% confidence interval if you liked. But it would be a large circle. I don’t know why people use a CEP of 50% – mainly with rockets in my experience rather than artillery shells. But then doctors use the 50% interval as a measure of a lethal dose as well.

    24 Simon Jester – “Cain was using a 2? mortar, according to Wikipedia (who in turn seem to have got their facts from the London Gazette).”

    But I don’t see in either place that he was firing it from the hip. Not that I want to belittle the guy’s achievement. After all:

    Frances Cain was unaware of her father’s VC until after he died because, according to Clarkson, “he’d never thought to mention it”

    I am actually even more impressed by that than winning the medal. And I am impressed by anyone who wins the medal. A monument to a lost Britain.

    TomJ – “http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/36774/supplements/5015 for Maj Cain’s citation.”

    Thank you for the link.

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