Firefight followed Ri Yong-ho’s sacking

Ye Olde Chosun is reporting that Seoul has received intel that North Korea’s former army chief didn’t go quietly:

A gunbattle broke out when the North Korean regime removed army chief Ri Yong-ho from office, leaving 20 to 30 soldiers dead, according to unconfirmed intelligence reports. Some intelligence analysts believe Ri, who has not been seen since his abrupt sacking earlier this week, was injured or killed in the confrontation.

According to government officials here, the gunbattle erupted when Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae, the director of the People’s Army General Political Bureau, tried to detain Ri in the process of carrying out leader Kim Jong-un’s order to sack him. Guards protecting Ri, who is a vice marshal, apparently opened fire. “We cannot rule out the possibility that Ri was injured or even killed in the firefight,” said one source.

I guess we’ll see. I’m no Paul Watson (who the hell is that guy?), but it never hurts to read North Korea news with a bit of skepticism.

  • Bunnios Au

    Regarding Paul Watson and his article, I believe this comment sums it up: “This is an extremely important article. It shows that no matter how incomprehensively vile a regime may be, there will always be at least one apologist for it.” (

  • wangkon936

    Wow… just wow.  However, this may not necessarily be a bad thing.  This could perhaps be North Korea’s “Meiji Restoration” phase.  The military is good at maintaining internal order and getting bureaucratic things done, but not so good at opening up society, etc.

    Here is another good article:

    If there is a pay wall, look up the article on Google news to bypass it.

  • wangkon936

    Or… could this be the first signs of cracks in the NK system that could bring about a more sudden collapse?  Perhaps the NK military will try to stage a coup?  Could be an interesting summer in Pyongyang.

  • Byeonguk Yook

    I don’t see it. Only if somebody makes some serious miscalculation. I think the elite knows they cannot afford to open up or make any moves towards it. They are more interested in self preservation and that I feel will take precedent over anything else. Only if people under them get really fed up and realize that they are sick and tired of supporting them but I doubt that will happen any time soon. 

  • Dokdoforever

    Just read an article on MSN, in which an anonymous ‘insider’ claimed that Rhi had been taken out in order for Kim Jong Un and Jang to abandon a ‘military first’ stance and open up the country to economic reform.  The sourse said that Jang had been sacked earlier under KJI’s rule for his pro reform views, and pointed to the mini dress trend and Disney comic characters as evidence of Kim Jong Un’s favorable view of reform. 

    One problem with this claim is that Kim Jong Un supposedly had been behind the failed currency reforms, which were actually an effort to reassert state authority.  Maybe Kim is simply pragmatic and open to anything new.

    One of the arguments against reform had been that the North would resist economic opening because it would undermine their political control – particularly the cult of personality.   Kim Jong Un like to be seen, though.  He likes making speeches, and seems to want to win approval.  

    N Korea could also try to mitigate some of the loss of control that comes with opening by only opening with China.  Maybe that will be the strategy.

    By the way, did anyone else here in Korea have trouble accessing non-Korean websites last night?  Strangely, I had no trouble with any Korean website, but any site in the US or Europe wouldn’t come on the screen.  I wonder if one of those undersea internet cables broke. Anyone else experience this? 

  • R. elgin

    Regarding the internet access, yes, there was a problem and you won’t hear about that from news sources but there was a new old internet problem here.

  • R. elgin

    I was told this was a likely course by others so maybe it is no surprise that there is friction.  It could be good if JongUn could touch something new.

  • Dokdoforever

    What type of new and old problem are you alluding to?

  • Jeffery Hodges

    Who is Paul Watson? An expert, naturally, as can be confirmed by checking  Amazon Books, which informs us:
    “Paul Watson is the youngest international football coach in the world. Before taking up coaching, he worked as a journalist for Football Italia. He lives in London.”

    See? The guy just oozes expertise!

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • SomeguyinKorea

     Nah, the Disney thing is just so he appears as if he’s open to new ideas because everything else they’ve tried in order to extort concessions (free cash) since he’s taken power has failed (which is why he’s cementing his power by knocking off a few top guys he sees as a threat to his authority).

  • Pingback: Squashed coups, N. Korean economic reform & other rumors | The Marmot's Hole()