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North Korea regime deeply divided, source says

Factionalism within the regime could explain in part the sudden death of Kim Yang Gon.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Jan. 12, 2016 at 1:13 PM
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SEOUL, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- North Korea's political hierarchy is deeply divided between officials who work in domestic and foreign policy, according to a source on the country.

The source, speaking to Radio Free Asia on the condition of anonymity, said diehard Kim Jong Un loyalists in the Organization Department of the Korean Workers' Party, as well as State Security Agency officers, place North Korean officials working in foreign affairs under surveillance and are in charge of their punishment.

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The source added the factionalism within the regime could explain in part the sudden death of Kim Yang Gon, a top inter-Korea negotiator.

"Kim Yang Gon was occupied with South Korea affairs for the last 30 years, and knew more than anyone else the situation of the outside world," the source said.

That knowledge easily made him a target of "elimination," the source said, adding Kim's conciliatory approach to South Korea could have culminated in a conflict with the domestic faction that supported another nuclear test.

"Only Kim Yang Gon did not know that point in time had come," the source said.

While North Korea officials responsible for external affairs are in a more precarious position, they continue to bear the responsibility of galvanizing friendly countries to support Pyongyang's aims.

North Korea state media recently stated pro-Pyongyang individuals and organizations in Russia, Bulgaria, Finland, Ghana, Brazil, as well as the United Kingdom and Hungary, expressed their approval of the North's claimed hydrogen bomb test.

North Korea also stated Monday that seamen from Panama and Kiribati who had docked at the North Korean port of Wonsan held a solidarity rally to show their support for Pyongyang's recent nuclear test.

The North has said the test was a "self-defense measure."

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