The National Intelligence Service on Monday backed Grand National Party floor leader Kim Moo-sung's recent claim that North Korea's military has 1 million tons of rice squirreled away in the midst of a food crisis.
A senior NIS officer was quoted by several members of the National Assembly Intelligence Committee as saying the claim is "well-founded," citing intelligence reports.
Commenting on the extraordinary congress of the North Korean Workers Party that starts Tuesday, the NIS said it is curious to see what progress the North Korean leadership will make in establishing leader Kim Jong-il’s son Jong-un as his successor.
Kim junior was promoted to general just before the congress started, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency, as was Kim Jong-il's sister Kim Kyong-hui.
The party congress is the first of its kind in 44 years. The NIS believes the regime will revamp the organization by filling vacancies.
The spy agency said the North apparently intended to hold the party congress "in a festive mood" in early September since it is held for the first time in almost 50 years, but it must have decided to focus on relief operations after recent devastating floods.
Democratic Party lawmaker Shin Hak-yong, a member of the committee, said, "The NIS also attributes the North's delay of the party congress to internal conflict in ruling clique, including the dissatisfaction of some leaders in the military with Kim Jong-un's sudden rise."