Kim Jong-un in charge of intelligence: Source

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Kim Jong-un in charge of intelligence: Source

The son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is even more clearly on the fast track to becoming his father’s successor, with the South Korean intelligence agency revealing Tuesday during a session of the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee that Kim Jong-un is currently head of North Korea’s State Security Department.

The State Security Department is an autonomous bureau directly under Kim Jong-il’s command and has often been referred to as the “secret police.” The department was separated from the regular police force in 1973. The department has been known to have great power over the lives of ordinary North Korean citizens and is thought to be behind severe violations of human rights.

Kim Jong-un’s involvement with the secret police is believed to date back to April 2009, when South Korean intelligence sources said he ordered a sting on a vacation house frequented by his older brother, Kim Jong-nam.

The house had been occupied by people supporting Kim Jong-il’s eldest son and the secret police’s abrupt crackdown was in order for Kim Jong-un to gain the upper hand in the power struggle between the brothers. Those who were at the house were dragged away by the State Security Department, according to sources. Kim Jong-nam was not at the scene.

The position of State Security Department chief has been empty since the death of the last security head, Rhee Jin-su, in 1987. The South Korean intelligence agency believes that Kim Jong-il took over the department himself after Rhee’s death.

Experts believe this powerful position was handed over to Kim Jong-un to hone him for his ascension.

“The position will suit the young successor well in order for him to take control of the Workers’ Party and the North Korean military’s elite,” said Cheong Seong-chang of the Sejong Institute, indicating that Kim Jong-il’s plans are for the son to receive his successor training in private, which would explain why Kim Jong-un has not received additional positions since last September.

The father and son were also reported by North Korea’s official news agency to have made a visit to the secret police headquarters on April 15, founder Kim Il Sung’s birthday.

The South Korean government is keeping a careful watch on the situation but was unable to confirm the report.

“As North Korean media have not said anything about appointing anyone to the position, it is difficult to confirm it,” Lee Jong-joo, spokeswoman of the South Korean Ministry of Unification said yesterday.

By Christine Kim, Lee Young-jong []

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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