Top N.Korean Official Dealing with S.Korea 'Stepped Down'

Kim Yang-gon Kim Yang-gon

Senior North Korean apparatchik Kim Yang-gon may have stepped down as director of the United Front Department in charge of inter-Korean relations, sources said.

A source who recently visited Pyongyang, said, "I was told by a high-ranking North Korean official that Kim stepped down. He is unable to move freely, so it's hard for him to carry out his official duties."

Another source said, "There are rumors that Kim was investigated by the State Security Department in relation to Jang Song-taek," the once-powerful eminence grise who was executed at the end of last year.

Kim was last seen in public at the presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly in April. His recent disappearance from public view has led to speculations over his health.

A South Korean government official said, "To our knowledge, Kim's health has worsened, so he is unable to accompany [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un on his inspection tours. We'll be able to say for sure next month, when the presidium meets for a ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary of the death of Kim Il-sung on July 8."

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 30, 2014 13:37 KST