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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
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

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