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N. Korean leader dismissed, purged 31 ranking officials after appointment as heir: lawmaker

All Headlines 20:37 October 23, 2012

SEOUL, Oct. 23 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has dismissed or purged 31 senior officials including the former chief of the military's general staff since being anointed heir to his father and longtime leader Kim Jong-il in 2010, a South Korean lawmaker claimed Tuesday.

The younger Kim, who took power after his father's death last December, dismissed four members of the Central Military Commission of the North's ruling Workers' Party in September 2010, and purged 27 other ranking officials between 2011 and 2012, according to Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun of the South's ruling Saenuri Party.

"Kim Jong-un is purging senior officials who are becoming an obstacle to his grip on power, performing poorly or expressing their dissatisfaction, according to his needs," Yoon said in a news release.

Among those purged were Vice Marshal Ri Yong-ho, the former chief of the military's general staff who was abruptly relieved of all of his posts in July; Ryu Kyong, a senior intelligence official; and Kim Chol, a senior defense official, the lawmaker said.

Ryu was executed in January 2011 on charges of espionage, while Kim, the defense official, was executed in January of this year on charges of drinking and engaging in other entertainment during the country's mourning period for the late leader, he added.

"It appears that Kim Jong-un will continue to purge and dismiss ranking officials for some time as he consolidates his grip on power," Yoon said.

hague@yna.co.kr
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