A source familiar with intel on North Korea told the JoongAng Ilbo that there was a failed but violent attempt to remove Kim Jong-un from power in downtown Pyongyang last year.
Who did what when was not specified, but the source said the attempt appears to have been launched by unhappy campers sometime prior to Gen. Kim Yong-chol’s demotion in November. The source also said it was worth noting this attempt took place in downtown Pyongyang, not while Kim was off in the provinces.
Gen. Kim, BTW, is a military hardliner who commanded the sinking of the Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong-do in 2010. North Korea apparently treats its generals like George Steinbrenner used to treat Yankee prospects—Kim was made a four star general in February of last year, but was demoted to two stars in November. Last month, however, he appeared at a performance with Kim Jong-un wearing four stars again.
The source also noted there was a firefight between different factions of the General Reconnaissance Bureau last year. The General Reconnaissance Bureau, which oversees operations against the South, was created in 2009 after several smaller organizations were merged. Alumni from the merged organizations began fighting for control of the new bureau, with tensions eventually erupting into a firefight. Gen. Kim, who heads the bureau, took responsibility for the mess and was demoted to three stars, He was demoted again to two stars after the attempt on Kim’s life. Or so said the source, who noted that the attempt could have been related to a purge that took place after the bureau firefight.
According to the JoongAng, intelligence authorities believe the attempt on Kim Jong-un has played a role in North Korea’s naughty behavior of late—including the long-range missile test, nuke test and armistice threats. To wit, Kim has joined hands with hardliners to stabilize and unify his regime.
Sources also told the JoongAng Ilbo that Kim Jong-un has secretly ordered that a three-stage scenario be drawn up to really heighten fear of nuclear war.
The first stage is aimed primarily at South Korea and North Korea’s own people, and involves threats to abandon the Armistice to create a sense of crisis and the spreading of rumors that a war is soon to begin. In the second stage, North Korea would advise foreigners residing in North Korea to leave and inform foreign embassies to get their nationals out, warning that North Korea would be unable to guarantee their safety in the event of a war. If South Korea still hasn’t caved, the third stage would kick in, involving terrorist strikes on South Korean public facilities or limited provocations like the Cheonan sinking. A high-ranking government official said North Korea was really concerned about public discontent when the food situation turns bad in April. He said Kim Jong-un doesn’t really want a war, but it wants to solve the discontent by heightening the sense of crisis and find a way to get sanctions like South Korea’s May 24 sanctions removed. He added that he was concerned that North Korea would choose to go with something you couldn’t immediately pin on them—like a terrorist attack or the something like the Cheonan sinking—rather than a localized provocation in which they will likely suffer major retaliation.
Marmot’s Note: Could be bullshit. Or not. Don’t ask me—I don’t work for the CIA.