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    » 07/20/2012, 00.00

    NORTH KOREA

    Purges, killings and new economy: Kim Jong-un's grab for real power

    Joseph Yun Li-sun

    After taking over in December, the young dictator has had to put up with the generals. Now, with the sacking of the chief of General Staff, which led to a gun fight that might have killed and wounded 40 people, and the creation of a political bureau to run the economy, changes are coming to the top. A "final struggle" for power is underway, source tells AsiaNews.

    Seoul (AsiaNews) - A gun battle broke out when the North Korean regime removed army chief Ri Yong-ho from office last Monday. Some 20 to 30 soldiers died in the incident, this according to South Korea's main daily, Chosun Ilbo, which cited South Korean intelligence sources.

    Ri's sacking and replacement with General Hyon Yong-chol (a loyalist of the new dictator, Kim Jong-un) surprised many analysts. Sources told AsiaNews that a final struggle is underway in Pyongyang for real power.

    After he took over from his father Kim Jong-il, who died in December, Kim Jong-un now appears to be "taking power away from the generals."

    The gun battle apparently broke out when General Choe Ryong-hae (another Kim Jong-un loyalist) tried to arrest Ri, triggering the reaction of his body guards.

    "We cannot rule out the possibility that Ri was injured or even killed in the fire fight," said one source.

    Two days after Ri's removal, Kim Jong-un proclaimed himself marshal and decided to take over North Korea's dying economy, one of the poorest in the world.

    The young dictator set up a 'political bureau' to manage economic affairs, which until recently had been a prerogative of the military.

    "In the past, the government had no say in the economy. The military controlled everything. Now things will change," a source told AsiaNews.

     

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    See also

    21/12/2011 NORTH KOREA
    North Korean soldiers stealing food from people, as everyone fears the worst
    A source on the border with China tells AsiaNews, “Soldiers are hoarding all they can find in their barracks. People are starving to death because here you can live only with a rifle and some food.” Meanwhile, the power struggle for the dead leader’s throne picks up.

    30/07/2012 NORTH KOREA
    As Kim Jong-un plays in the park, uncle takes the country
    Hamlet takes centre stage in Pyongyang. With North Korea's young dictator, Kim Jong-un, playing happy husband with wife at the amusement part for the greater joy of photographers, Uncle Jang Song-taek purges the top echelons of the regime to assert his power. However, he is taking big risks because North Koreans will not let a non-Kim rule them.

    28/09/2010 NORTH KOREA
    Third Kim raised to the rank of general, mystery over the succession continues
    The conference of the Workers' Party of Korea re-elects ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong-il as general secretary, accepts the appointment of his youngest son as a four-star general. No word has been said yet about Kim Jong-un’s official appointment as successor.

    17/03/2010 NORTH KOREA
    Kim Jong-il grooms a "bulldog" as heir
    On April 15 the portrait of Kim Jong-un, third son of North Korean dictator and heir apparent will be publically unveiled. But the father, who fears being murdered, at the same time is promoting another child and giving him the weapons to hold off the heir to the throne.

    20/12/2004 NORTH KOREA
    Kim Jong-il's son escapes assassination attempt
    The situation inside North Korea's leadership is increasingly confused.



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