November 25, 2010 13:41
A seemingly innocuous picture released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency recently showing leader Kim Jong-il and his son Jong-un visiting a duck and a fish farm has fuelled speculation that Tuesday's attack on Yeonpyeong Island was approved from the very top.
Next to Kim father and son in the picture stands Kim Myong-guk, a four-star general and chief of the People's Army General Staff in charge of military operations.
The farm is in Ryongyon, which faces Baeknyeong Island and is a strategic post with a heavy concentration of artillery batteries -- just like Kangryong, from where North Korea fired at the island. One researcher with a state-run research institute said, "Kim Jong-il quietly visits nearby military bases when he goes on his on-the-spot guidance tours to the provinces, so it's likely that he visited a base of the frontline Fourth Corps before the attack."
The fact that Gen. Kim accompanied the dictator supports that belief. Baek Seung-joo of the Korean Institute for Defense Analyses said, "Several political military figures accompany Kim Jong-il. It's very unlikely that someone as high up as the chief of military operations went all the way to South Hwanghae Province just to see a fish farm."
The supreme military commander in wartime is Kim Jong-il, followed by Ri Yong-ho. The chief of the People's Army General Staff, Kim Myong-guk, and commanders of army, navy and air force are next.
"The real purpose of Kim's trip to South Hwanghae Province must have been to check up on the firing plans just before the attack," a South Korean intelligence officer said. "Kim Myong-guk probably gave a briefing on the preparation and got the final approval from Kim Jong-il."
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