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» 07/20/2012
NORTH KOREA
Purges, killings and new economy: Kim Jong-un's grab for real power
by 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
12/21/2011 NORTH KOREA
North Korean soldiers stealing food from people, as everyone fears the worst
by Joseph Yun Li-sun
07/30/2012 NORTH KOREA
As Kim Jong-un plays in the park, uncle takes the country
by Joseph Yun Li-sun
09/28/2010 NORTH KOREA
Third Kim raised to the rank of general, mystery over the succession continues
by Joseph Yun Li-sun
03/17/2010 NORTH KOREA
Kim Jong-il grooms a "bulldog" as heir
by Joseph Yun Li-sun
12/20/2004 NORTH KOREA
Kim Jong-il's son escapes assassination attempt

Editor's choices
VIETNAM – VATICAN
Vietnam today, 40 years after the fall of Saigon
by Lee NguyenOn 30 April 1975, North Vietnamese forces seized Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, thus ending the Vietnam War. Forty years later, the country has become a medium-size economic "tiger" in Asia and the world, a country with a capitalist economy behind a Communist facade, under a regime still bent on exerting tight social controls. There are some positive signs for the Church, but also acts of persecution, bans, and censorship, especially against bishops and priests. Yet, the country really needs the reconciliation Christians can bring to heal still present wounds and divisions.
IRAQ – MIDDLE EAST
For Chaldean Patriarch, state secularism and religious freedom are the practical response to fundamentalist barbarism
by Louis Raphael I Sako*In Beirut, Mar Sako met the leaders of the Syriac Catholic and Syriac Orthodox Churches. Together, they agreed to a major conference to discuss the situation of Christians in the Middle East. Past massacres and today's tragedies are a lesson on which to base real coexistence. Reflecting upon the issues, His Beatitude shares his thoughts with AsiaNews readers.
NEPAL – ASIA
Nepal earthquake: Church and international community coming to the aid of survivorsThe Italian Bishops’ Conference has pledged € 3 million in emergency medical assistance. The South Korean Church has allocated funds for the displaced. India, Pakistan and China are already on the ground. A Chinese airline has hiked ticket fares to evacuate its nationals. Israel is selective in its help, airlifting 25 children of surrogate mothers and gay couples.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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