N.Korea Event Offers Clue to Regime Consolidation

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited Kumsusan Palace of the Sun at midnight on Sunday to mark the Stalinist country's 64th anniversary. The official KCNA news agency said Kim was accompanied by senior generals from the Workers Party's Central Military Commission and the National Defense Commission.

NCD Vice Chairman Jang Song-taek, Kim's uncle and patron, wore a different uniform from the rest of the brass in attendance. While Politburo chief Choe Ryong-hae and army chief Hyon Yong-chol wore light brown, Jang was in dark brown.

A South Korean intelligence official commented, "Dark brown is the color of Kim Jong-un's bodyguard unit, so it shows that Jang has seized control of it." The unit is a bastion of the Kim Dynasty with responsibilities including guarding Kim and his family and suppressing coup attempts by the military and popular uprisings.

It is also in charge of guarding the Kim family's holiday villas scattered across North Korea. Jang's seizure of the unit clearly reflects his growing power as the eminence grise behind the throne.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and senior officials pay tribute at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in July (top) and on Sunday (bottom). /Rodong Sinmun-Yonhap North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and senior officials pay tribute at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in July (top) and on Sunday (bottom). /Rodong Sinmun-Yonhap

Meanwhile, some suspect that Gen. Ri Yong-ho, the former North Korean army chief, was purged because he had the presumption to stand next to leader Kim Jong-un, steps ahead of other attendants, while paying homage to dead former leader Kim Jong-il at the palace in July.

Intelligence agents here have dismissed that story, but on Sunday nobody, not even Jang, stood next to Kim this time.

englishnews@chosun.com / Sep. 10, 2012 14:40 KST

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