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PostSubject: North Korean army 'split' over Kim Jong-un   North Korean army 'split' over Kim Jong-un I_icon_minitimeWed Apr 10, 2013 6:24 am

North Korean army 'split' over Kim Jong-un
North Korea's army was deeply split over whether to accept the command of Kim Jong-un, a former officer has revealed, giving a possible clue to the tensions lying behind the young leader's calls to war.

North Korean army 'split' over Kim Jong-un North-korea-jets_2531180b

North Korean Harbin H-5 bomber jets at Uiju Airfield near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong Photo:

REUTERS/Jacky Chen
By Malcolm Moore, Dandong7:00PM BST 09 Apr 2013319 Comments

First Lieutenant Kim, 42, said he had been forced to flee North Korea after he murdered a rival officer as the factions within his army unit battled for control.
"I killed a three-star company commander, the same rank as me," he said. "He was the head of the faction supporting Kim Jong-un. There were two fights. In the first fight, they surrounded us and arrested a lot of people.
"But I got away and gathered others from the barracks. We found them and I shot the commander. After that, I escaped".

The battles occurred at the end of 2011, shortly before Kim Jong-un succeeded his father as the "supreme commander" of the Korean People's Army, the 1.2 million-strong standing force that remains at the heart of North Korea's "military-first" society.

"It was before he came to power, but we all knew for a long time that he was going to be made the leader. There were a lot of people who were against him. But everyone in that faction got arrested after he came to power," said Lt. Kim.

His group, he said, supported Kim Yong-nam, North Korea's 85-year-old president.

Divisions within the military, and the desire of a leader who may be only 30-years-old to consolidate his position, could be one factor behind the current spate of aggression.

"The further north you go (in North Korea), the more you hear rumours of dissension and divisions over who is or who would have been a better leader," said Joseph Bermudez, an expert on the North Korean military and an analyst at DigitalGlobe.

He added that there had been rumours last year of a possibly violent falling-out between two major departments over who would be in charge of army reconnaissance. That, he said, might have alarmed Kim Jong-un, who subsequently reshuffled a host of leading generals.


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