Special security team set up for Kim Jong-il’s son

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Special security team set up for Kim Jong-il’s son


Delegates arrive in Pyongyang for a major conference of the Workers’ Party on Sunday in this picture released by the North’s official KCNA news agency yesterday. The conference, which will be held today, is expected to elect the party’s highest leading body. [YONHAP]

North Korea has recently created a special team inside Kim Jong-il’s guard unit to protect heir apparent Kim Jong-un, which provides evidence backing the speculation that the communist regime is preparing the dynastic third-generation power succession, a senior South Korean intelligence source told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

“We have learned that a special division was recently created inside the Escort Bureau, Kim Jong-il’s private guard unit, to protect Kim Jong-un,” the source said. “The separate protection details indicate that Kim Jong-un has secured his position as the heir.”

The Escort Bureau, also known as the Guard Command and Guard Bureau, is in charge of personal security and domestic support for the North Korean leader, as well as for his family and top North Korean officials.

The source said Lt. Gen. Yun Jong-lin, commander of the Escort Bureau, reports directly to Kim Jong-il about the protection team’s operations.

“We also have information that escort details are provided to Kim Jong-un when he accompanies Kim Jong-il on site inspections,” the source said. “Photographing Kim Jong-un has also been restricted to prevent public exposure of the heir.”

Speculation ran high that Kim Jong-un had accompanied the North Korean leader during his visit to China last month, but he did not make an appearance before the media. Photographs of Kim Jong-il, however, were taken during the trip.

The remarks by the senior intelligence official about the security detail for the youngest son came on the eve of a rare political event in North Korea. The Workers’ Party’s top delegates from nationwide will meet in Pyongyang today. The last such meeting was held 44 years ago.

The North has said the convention is to elect the leadership of the Workers’ Party, and experts have surmised that Kim Jong-un will make his political debut at the meeting.

Intelligence sources have also said that Jang Song-thaek, brother-in-law of Kim Jong-il, will be appointed to the second most powerful post in the Workers’ Party at the convention as part of North Korea’s effort to establish a third-generation power succession.

While Kim Jong-un is the heir-apparent, he is too young and inexperienced to be appointed to a top post, North Korea observers have said. Jang, who is known to have played the role of guardian to Jong-un, will likely act as regent for some time, they said.

Jang, the first vice director of the Workers’ Party with responsibility for the police, judiciary and other areas of internal security, is the husband of the North Korean leader’s younger sister.

By Lee Young-jong, Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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