Archive for the ‘North Korea’ Category

Alleged coup attempt against North Korean leader in Pyongyang

March 15, 2013

Kim Jong-un surrounded by generals
A prolonged exchange of gunfire that took place in the North Korean capital last November was part of a failed military coup against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, according to intelligence sources. On Wednesday, South Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo quoted an anonymous intelligence source in Seoul, who said the coup was linked to an ongoing power struggle unfolding inside the North Korean armed forces. The unnamed source told the paper that Seoul had confirmed the accuracy of rumors of an “armed skirmish” that took place at a central location in downtown Pyongyang in mid-November of 2012. The exchange of gunfire, which stunned residents of the eerily ordered city, was allegedly an effort to assassinate Kim, but failed after the assailants were rounded up and arrested by troops loyal to the country’s leadership. The culprits appear to be members of the Reconnaissance Bureau of the General Staff Department, which operates as the primary intelligence-collection agency of North Korea’s Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces. In early November of last year, the Reconnaissance Bureau was restructured to accommodate two newly amalgamated intelligence agencies, the Intelligence Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea and a combat-intelligence unit of the People’s Armed Forces. A number of North Korean generals, who were previously leading these amalgamated agencies, were demoted to reflect their new posts under the Reconnaissance Bureau. Among them was Kim Yong-chol, who saw his rank change overnight from a four-star general to that of a two-star lieutenant general. According to JoongAng Ilbo, the demotion prompted Kim and a number of disgruntled military intelligence officers in his inner circle to issue a challenge for control of the reorganized Reconnaissance Bureau. The power-struggle allegedly got out of hand and resulted in an all-out gun battle in the streets of the North Korean capital. Interestingly, in the past few months, Kim —a notorious foreign-policy hardliner, who is often quoted in the media urging war against the South— appears to have been reinstated to his previous four-star general status. JoongAng Ilbo says that he was even seen in February attending a musical performance in Pyongyang, sitting right next to leader Kim Jong-un. The paper adds that South Korean intelligence agencies are still trying to identify the identities of the individuals involved in last November’s alleged coup.