Has North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Been Toppled?

Hwang Pyong So must be feeling pretty good about himself right now. At the latest Supreme People’s Assembly meeting, he was made vice chairman of the National Defense Commission. This was after his promotion to director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People’s Army, making him the top political officer in the military. In a country where there is supposed to be no No. 2 official, he is called the second-most powerful figure.

Now he has crossed the border into South Korea on a one-day, short-notice trip, triggering hopes of reconciliation between the arch-rival republics—and heightening speculation about the fate of Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s young supremo, who has not been seen in public since September 3.

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North Korea’s Kim Jong Un breaks both ankles

Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader who has mysteriously been missing from the public eye for almost a month, sparking rumours covering every possibility from a stroke to a coup d’etat, is merely recovering from ankle surgery, a South Korean newspaper claims.

Kim had fractured both of his ankles and had surgery in Pyongyang in the middle of September to treat them, the Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s largest newspaper, reported citing an unnamed source.

“I heard that Kim Jong Un injured his right ankle in June after pushing ahead with on-site visits and ended up fracturing both ankles because he left the injury unattended,” the source was quoted as saying, adding that he had the operation at the Bonghwa Clinic, an exclusive hospital for high-ranking party members. Continue reading

North Korea puts attack choppers near border: reports

North Korea has recently deployed dozens of attack helicopters near its disputed sea border with South Korea, media reports said Tuesday, as both sides strengthen their military presence in the area.

The North has posted some 50 helicopters to Taetan and Nuchon air bases near the Yellow Sea, Yonhap news agency and other media reported, citing unidentified Seoul officials.

They include upgraded versions of the North’s Mi-2 helicopters as well as Mi-4 and Mi-8 models imported from the Soviet Union decades ago, it said, adding some were armed with machine guns and rockets.

“These choppers are being used for ground attacks and high-speed mobility forces exercises,” Yonhap quoted an official as saying.

Helicopters from the two bases could reach the South’s frontline island of Baengnyeong within two or three minutes, Chosun Ilbo newspaper said.

Full article: North Korea puts attack choppers near border: reports (Defencetalk)

Obama to visit tense border with N. Korea: reports

Obama will tour the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) during his visit to attend the March 26-27 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, Chosun Ilbo newspaper cited a diplomatic source as saying.

“Obama is expected to… comment on North Korea issues and may make a speech regarding the global community’s concerns on the North and the US’s determination to support the South-US alliance,” said the source.

Full article: Obama to visit tense border with N. Korea: reports (The China Post)