North Korea’s army was deeply split over whether to accept the command of Kim Jong-un, a former officer has revealed, giving a possible clue to the tensions lying behind the young leader’s calls to war.
First Lieutenant Kim, 42, said he had been forced to flee North Korea after he murdered a rival officer as the factions within his army unit battled for control.
“I killed a three-star company commander, the same rank as me,” he said. “He was the head of the faction supporting Kim Jong-un. There were two fights. In the first fight, they surrounded us and arrested a lot of people.
“But I got away and gathered others from the barracks. We found them and I shot the commander. After that, I escaped”.
The battles occurred at the end of 2011, shortly before Kim Jong-un succeeded his father as the “supreme commander” of the Korean People’s Army, the 1.2 million-strong standing force that remains at the heart of North Korea’s “military-first” society.
“It was before he came to power, but we all knew for a long time that he was going to be made the leader. There were a lot of people who were against him. But everyone in that faction got arrested after he came to power,” said Lt. Kim