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NK leader orders new probe into S. Korean civil servant killing: NIS

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to have ordered an investigation into the killing of a South Korean civil servant, Seoul’s National Intelligence Service revealed Tuesday.

“Chairman Kim ordered an investigation into the incident. There was circumstantial evidence of a search for the body,” Rep. Ha Tae-keung of the main opposition People Power Party told reporters after the parliamentary audit of the NIS.

Rep. Kim Byung-kee of the ruling Democratic Party added that he took the NIS statement as meaning that Kim Jong-un ordered a fresh investigation into the incident.

The South Korean civil servant was killed on the North Korean side of the West Sea in September. Following the incident, Seoul’s Ministry of National Defense said the civil servant was shot and killed by North Korean soldiers, and that his body was burned at sea. South Korea’s Coast Guard has since said that the civil servant appears to have attempted to defect to the North.

The North, however, has admitted to firing at a South Korean civilian who was found within its waters, but denied burning the body. Pyongyang has so far remained silent on Seoul’s calls for a joint investigation.

According to the two lawmakers, the NIS backed the Defense Ministry’s statement on the civil servant’s body being burned.

Regarding the North Korean leader’s sister Kim Yo-jong, the NIS is reported to have predicted an elevation of her status in the coming months.

According to lawmakers quoting the NIS, Kim Yo-jong is involved in all areas of state affairs, and her position within the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea is set to be raised in January. At present, Kim Yo-jong is an alternate member of the Politburo.

Regarding Kim Jong-un, the NIS told lawmakers that he has gained significant weight but that he currently has no serious health issues. According to the NIS, Kim Jong-un is thought to weigh some 140 kilograms. In comparison, Kim Jong-un is thought to have weighed about 90 kilograms when he rose to power in 2011.

The North Korean leader’s health has been in question in the South since his prolonged disappearance from the public eye earlier this year. At the time, some South Korean lawmakers claimed that Kim Jong-un was in critical condition, prompting speculation about his sister rising to power.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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