Jong-un’s allies getting positions, says spy chief

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Jong-un’s allies getting positions, says spy chief

South Korea’s spy agency chief, Won Sei-hoon, said the North Korean government is replacing middle-ranking officials to facilitate Kim Jong-il’s transfer of power to his youngest son Jong-un.

During a closed-door meeting with lawmakers at the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee yesterday, Won was quoted by sources saying, “The North Korean leadership is replacing middle-ranking officials to build up Kim Jong-un’s regime.”

According to sources at the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee, Won said the North Korean leadership seems to want to slow down the speed of the power succession but it is still doing everything it can, including replacing middle-ranking officials, to build up a Kim Jong-un regime.

“Kim Jong-un took the director position of the North’s Ministry of Public Security and others, including the son of O Kuk-ryol, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, are filling up positions under Jong-un. They are Jong-un’s core of power,” Won was quoted as saying by sources. “On the surface, the North seems to want to control the speed of the succession but below the surface, it is slowly building internal stability [for Jong-un].”

Analysts here previously said it was expected that Jong-un would be appointed as a vice chairman of the National Defense Commission at the fourth session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly that took place on April 7, but it didn’t happen.

Some analysts suggested the leadership didn’t go ahead with that because it wanted to control the pace of the transition of power.

“Kim Jong-un doesn’t have achievements to be credited with and the [North Korean leadership] believes it’s not the right time to lionize him at this moment because some are discontented with the crippled economy and food shortages,” Won said.

In regard to the North’s Korea’s nuclear weapons program, Won said the North already has various sites for a nuclear weapons test and some of the sites are still under construction.

“I believe the North is able to conduct a nuclear test at any time,” Won said. “But chances are unlikely that a nuclear test will happen right now.” Won also said that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who is scheduled to visit North Korea this month, won’t bring a letter from President Barack Obama.


By Kim Seung-hyun, Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

“북, 김정은 위해 중간간부 대거 교체”

원세훈 “김정은, 안전보위부장 맡아 주민 통제 지휘”

원세훈 국정원장은 19일 “북한 김정은이 주민을 통제하는 힘을 가진 국가안전보위부장직을 맡았고, 오극렬(국방위 부위원장) 아들 등으로 그 바로 밑의 자리를 채우면서 김정은의 핵심 세력으로 포진시키고 있다”고 말했다고 국회 정보위원들이 전했다.

김정은이 국가안전보위부장으로 활동하고 있다는 사실을 국정원 책임자가 확인해 준 건 처음이다. 원 원장은 이날 국회 정보위에 출석했다.

그는 북한 정권의 3대 세습과 관련해 “속도를 조절하는 걸로 보이지만 그래도 중간간부들까지 교체하면서 김정은 체제 구축을 위해 할 수 있는 것은 다 하고 있다”는 취지의 말을 했다고 한다.

한 정보위원은 “북한 김정일 정권이 겉으로는 속도 조절을 하면서도 3대 세습을 위한 포석을 차근차근 두고 있다는 게 국정원의 판단”이라고 밝혔다.

김정은은 지난 7일 열린 제12기 4차 최고인민회의에서 국방위원회 부위원장에 임명되지 않았다. 이 때문에 세대 교체의 속도를 조절하고 있는 게 아니냐는 분석이 나왔다. 이와 관련해 원 원장은 “김정은이 아직 특별히 내세울 공이 있는 것도 아니고, 식량 부족과 경제 악화에 따른 불만 세력이 있어서 아직은 김정은을 영웅시할 때가 아니라고 생각하는 것 같다”고 말했다고 한다.

북한 고위층 2세의 모임으로 알려진 ‘봉화조’에 대한 질문에 원 원장은 “어떤 명칭을 쓰는지 모르지만 김정은보다는 나이가 많은 혁명 2, 3세들이 꽤 많이 곳곳에 나가 있고, 자기들끼리 어울리고 있다”고 말했다.

원 원장은 “북한에는 현재 다양한 핵실험 장소가 있고, 일부 공사도 진행 중이므로 핵실험은 언제든 가능할 것”이라고 말했다고 한다. 남북 정상회담에 대해서는 “정부는 이벤트성 회담은 안 한다는 입장”이라며 “그래서 쉽지 않다”고 했다.

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