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Power struggle in North Korea may cast shadow on abduction investigation

(Sankei: July 19, 2015 – Top play)


 It was learned on July 18 that a fierce power struggle is taking place between Hwang Pyong So, director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People’s Army who ranks first among First Secretary Kim Jong Un’s aides, and Minister of State Security Kim Won Hong, who ranks fourth, after Minister of People’s Armed Forces Hyon Yong Chol was purged by Kim Jong Un. This was revealed by a source on Korean peninsula affairs. Kim Jong Un is taking a wait-and-see attitude for now, but it is possible that he may proceed to purge either one of the two in the end.


 If Kim Won Hong is disgraced, this will affect the special committee reinvestigating the cases of abducted Japanese nationals (chaired by Vice Minister of State Security So Tae Ha).


 According to the source, four subordinates of Kim Won Hong were also executed after Hyon’s purge this spring. They were all close confidants of Kim Won Hong’s. They were punished for disrespect for not participating in events attended by Kim Jong Un.


 However, later investigations by the State Security Ministry show that the four had not even been informed of the events. Hwang Pyong So, who is responsible for ideological control, organizes events attended by Kim Jong Un, so it is believed that he intentionally did not inform the four, in order to cause them to be executed.


 Conflict between Hwang Pyong So and Kim Won Hong started when Kim became state security minister in April 2012.


 At that time, Kim investigated Hwang – who was deputy chief of the Workers’ Party of Korea’s Organization and Guidance Department — and his wife on charges of receiving bribes. Hwang’s wife died after being subjected to harsh interrogation.


 Meanwhile, Hwang investigated Kim’s son, Kim Chol on suspicion of embezzlement of foreign currency after he assumed the position of chairman of the General Political Bureau of the armed forces in April 2014 as a way of putting pressure on Kim.


 When Hwang was with the party’s Organization and Guidance Department, he openly accepted bribes from candidates for promotion to the rank of general. Kim Kyok Sik, who became chief of staff of the Korean People’s Army in May 2013, was replaced in just three months because the bribes he gave to Hwang were too small.


 The above source said he is watching developments from now because “First Secretary Kim abhors powerful aides, so he may purge the one who becomes more powerful between the two.”

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