N.Korea Purges Deputy Spy Chief

      May 20, 2011 11:47

      Ryu Kyong, a deputy director of North Korea's State Security Department and formerly one of the closest aides to leader Kim Jong-il, was purged early this year in a power struggle in Pyongyang, according to a source.

      The source in North Korea said Ryu Kyong was summoned by Kim Jong-il in early January and on his way to Kim's residence, was arrested by members of the General Guard Bureau. He was interrogated and secretly executed.

      A South Korean government official backed the story. "Ryu has disappeared from public view since early this year. It seems he was either purged or sent to the provinces. We're trying to find out if he was executed," he said. The North Korean source said Ryu was suspected of being a double agent.

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visits a university under the State Security Department in May 2009 in this photo believed showing Ryu Kyong, the department's deputy director, among his retinue. /[North] Korean Central News Agency-Yonhap

      A North Korean defector said Ryu held real power in the spy agency and had been on a roll. Last September when Kim Jong-il's third son and heir Jong-un was promoted to four-star general, Ryu was also promoted from lieutenant general to colonel general. He reportedly wielded more power than Gen. U Dong-chuk, his ostensible superior, because of Kim Jong-il's confidence in him.

      But he is believed to have been eliminated by the Kims and the leader's brother-in-law Jang Song-taek, seen as the grey eminence in the North, because he was getting too powerful.

      The source in North Korea said, "I heard that Kim Jong-un was at one time very keen on his work in the security department but didn't have much to do because almost everything was taken care of by Ryu Kyong and his cadres."

      Jang, who is in charge of the security department and the Ministry of Public Security, reportedly had an uneasy relationship with Ryu. About 100 security department officials, including counterespionage bureau chief Kim Yong-sik, who were regarded as Ryu's cadres, were also kicked out, the source added.

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