04/11/2013, 00.00
KOREA
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Infighting in the ruling family, army and party behind Kim's threats

"Whilst everyone was looking at the movements of the military, various players have changed inside the regime. The dictator's uncle no longer appears to be in the picture; he was the regime's eminence grise and main contact with the military." Official tells Chinese, "There'll be no war on the Korean Peninsula, so send as many tourists as possible".

Seoul (AsiaNews) - The threats facing the world from North Korea "conceal a power struggle inside the regime. Jang Song-taek, uncle and 'eminence grise' of the regime's young strongman Kim Jong-un, has gone from the scene. Pak Bong-ju, who ten years ago was tasked with reforming the country's economy in accordance with free market principles but was eventually purged by Jang, has reappeared," said Ri Yong-mun a South Korean analyst who spoke to Chosun Ilbo about North Korea's ongoing power struggle.

According to the analyst, Pak's appointment as prime minister comes after the Workers Party's Central Committee picked him and this clearly shows that Pyongyang's military provocations are the result of regime "infighting".

"Young Kim has always had his uncle alongside since he took power, but the latter disappeared from media and official photographs at the start of March. Jang was always seen as 'military', whilst Kim is more 'political'."

Now, "something must have changed. The third Kim wants full control of the army, but he has to get rid of his cumbersome relative," who is married to Kim Jong-il's sister, Kim Kyong-hui, visible on the picture posted herein (the uncle on Kim's right, the aunt in front).

"Of course, now he has to prove that he can lead the military. If noting comes from all the recent threats and rhetoric, he could lose face and the confidence of his generals. "

Recent reassurances by a member of North Korea's General Bureau of Tourism to a number of Chinese tour operators appear to back this theory.

In mid-March, the Bureau's Kim To-jun told his Chinese counterparts, "Don't worry. There'll be no war on the Korean Peninsula, so send as many tourists as possible."

Chinese tourism is a major source of income for Pyongyang, which has long survived thanks to Beijing's financial support.

Speaking recently to AsiaNews, the president of the Korean Bishops' Conference Mgr Kang also said that the North's threats are only designed to help its shattered economy. (JYL)

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