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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
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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