December 02, 2010 11:31
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's son and heir Jong-un ordered the military in early November to prepare for an artillery attack on South Korea, the Asahi Shimbun reported on Wednesday quoting a source.
The Japanese daily quoted the source, who is familiar with North Korea-China relations, as saying, "Early last month, the North Korean military issued instructions in Kim Jong-un's name to senior military commanders to get ready to counter the enemy's provocations any time." The source quoted an unnamed North Korean Army officer as commenting on the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong. "It had been planned. We had been preparing for that for a long time."
The North Korean military was waiting for a chance and then attacked under the pretext of countering an annual South Korean military exercise, the daily speculated.
"According to several sources familiar with the internal situation in the North, the regime needed to accelerate efforts to establish the image of Kim Jong-un as a strong leader to quell discontent among some soldiers," the daily said.
"Some intelligence reports say the North will stage a military exercise for all troops for six months from Wednesday to tighten controls," it added.
Meanwhile, a leaked U.S. diplomatic document disclosed on Wednesday speculates that a disastrous currency reform the regime carried out late last year was aimed at ferreting out those who opposed Kim Jong-un as the heir to the leadership.
According to a telegram from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow disclosed by WikiLeaks, David Shear, U.S. deputy assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, met a "major player" involved in North Korea-China trade in Shenyang, China on Dec. 15 last year to get information about the internal situation in North Korea.
The official, identified with 12 "X"s instead of his name, said the most important reason why the North Korean regime conducted the currency reform was to ferret out opponents of Kim Jong-un. The aim was to control inflation and narrow the economic gap, apparently in the belief that opponents of the reform would also oppose the succession. But Kim Jong-il's eldest son Jong-nam opposed it, he said.
Jong-un inclines to Vietnamese-style reform, while Jong-nam reportedly prefers Chinese-style economic opening. Kim senior supported the currency reform and thus Jong-un.
Kim Jong-il has become more paranoid recently to the point where he ordered all students and academics home from China right after an exchange student in China sought asylum in a foreign country.
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