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Kim Jong-un 'was target of assassination attempt'

Date

Julian Ryall, Tokyo

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects a live ammunition firing drill by the Jangjae Islet.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects a live ammunition firing drill by the Jangjae Islet. Photo: AP

KOREA: Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, was the target of an assassination attempt linked to a power struggle within the military, according to reports.

South Korean intelligence sources were quoted as saying that "disgruntled people inside the North" moved ahead of the demotion of General Kim Yong-chol, the director of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, in November last year. The timing and nature of the attempt has not been established, although there were rumours of an exchange of gunfire in Pyongyang that month, the intelligence officer told the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper.

It has also proved difficult to identify who was behind the incident, with the intelligence official suggesting that it was linked to the punishment meted out to General Kim.  

It has also proved difficult to identify who was behind the incident, with the intelligence official suggesting that it was linked to the punishment meted out to General Kim.

A known hawk and ally of Kim Jong-un, General Kim earned a reputation for being an aggressive military leader who was behind the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in March 2010. Promoted to a four-star general in February 2012, he was demoted to a two-star lieutenant general just nine months later because of the power struggle when the intelligence department of the Workers' Party and a division of the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces were merged into the Reconnaissance General Bureau. A dispute over which faction would lead the new entity led to the gunfight in Pyongyang, the intelligence official said.

"The people who were purged after the gunfight could be related to the assassination attempt," he added.

General Kim has since been restored to his four-star status and appeared alongside Kim Jong-un at a musical recital in Pyongyang last month.

The Telegraph, London

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