Jong-un’s birthday gift train derailed: Report

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Jong-un’s birthday gift train derailed: Report

A train carrying birthday presents for Kim Jong-un, chosen successor to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, was derailed, a radio station that broadcasts into North Korea said yesterday.

“A cargo train that left Sinuiju for Pyongyang on Dec. 11 was derailed somewhere between Yomju Station and Tongnim Station,” a source within North Korea’s National Security Agency was quoted as saying by Open Radio for North Korea. Sinuiju, a port city on the Chinese border, and Yomju and Tongnim are in North Pyongan Province, northwest of the North Korean capital city of Pyongyang.

“That incident put the North’s National Security Agency on emergency alert,” the source told Open Radio for North Korea.

Open Radio is an American nongovernmental organization based in Washington.

The train was comprised of more than 40 train coaches, and eight of them were derailed, the radio station reported. The train was filled with presents for Jong-un’s upcoming birthday, which falls on Jan. 8, including luxury goods such as wristwatches and televisions in bulk, it said.

The National Security Agency is pointing to the possibility that it was committed by “a group of people opposed to the succession scheme for Kim Jong-un,” Open Radio for North Korea quoted the source as saying.

“The damage of the section of the railway this time was so huge that it appears that somebody intentionally caused it at the time when the train passed by,” the source told Open Radio for North Korea.

The report came as the North is preparing a succession process amid speculation of the dwindling health of Kim Jong-il.

Although rare, antigovernment activities in the North have been reported or suspected previously, including a railway explosion in the town of Ryongchon April 22, 2004, that may have been a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-il. A train carrying Kim passed through the town hours earlier.

According to defectors, some in North Korea are unhappy with Kim Jong-un’s status as successor because of his youth and inexperience.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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