Kim Kyok Sik was the commander of North Korea’s 4th Army Corps during the attack on Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong. Photo by Rodong Sinmun/Yonhap
SEOUL, May 11 (UPI) -- A veteran North Korean military commander responsible for a torpedo attack on a South Korean warship that killed 46 seamen died Sunday. He was 77.
North Korea's state newspaper Rodong Sinmun said Kim Kyok Sik died of acute respiratory failure, The New York Times reported. South Korean news agency Yonhap reported the illness was the result of a battle with lung cancer.
Kim was held responsible for the 2010 torpedo attack as well as for the bombardment of Yeonpyeong, a remote South Korean island where two marines and two civilians were killed the same year.
At the time, Seoul held Kim and Kim Yong Chul, the director of North Korea's Reconnaissance General Bureau responsible for the attacks.
Yonhap reported Kim Kyok Sik was quickly promoted by then North Korea leader Kim Jong Il, after the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island and the underwater torpedo attack on the South Korean ship Cheonan.
North Korea has denied responsibility for the sinking of Cheonan, and in the past has claimed the shelling of Yeonpyeong was a response to South Korean attacks. Kim's obituary did not mention either incidents.
Kim Kyok Sik was one of the few elderly generals who continued to serve in the North Korea military after Kim Jong Un fully assumed power in 2012.
Kim was born into a family of poor tenant farmers and entered the military at the age of 19, in 1957. By the 1980s, he was identified as a key military leader and was the recipient of the Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il medals.
Kim was the commander of North Korea's 4th Army Corps during the attack on Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong.
Younger brother Kim Dae Sik, a 74-year-old military leader who is held responsible for the 1983 bombing in Burma that killed 21 people, including 14 South Koreans, survives Kim.
The bombing was an assassination attempt on South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan.