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Mastermind Behind Cheonan Sinking Hit With US Sanctions

Posted September. 01, 2010 11:42,   


A leading North Korean military official known to have led the March 26 sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan is a target of new U.S. financial sanctions.

Lt. Gen. Kim Yong Chol, 64, director of the general reconnaissance bureau at the People’s Armed Forces Ministry of North Korea, has been identified by South Korea as leading the Cheonan sinking. He is on the U.S. list of targets of additional financial sanctions, which are considered retaliation for the sinking.

High-ranking North Korean defectors say he taught military affairs to Kim Jong Un, the youngest son and heir apparent to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, in the early 2000s at Kim Il Sung General Military School.

Kim Yong Chol rapidly emerged after Kim Jong Un was designated successor. The lieutenant general led the integration of reconnaissance organizations ranging from central combat operations to Office 35 of the ruling (North) Korean Workers` Party and the reconnaissance bureau.

He was eventually named head of the general reconnaissance bureau, which serves as an intelligence agency.

Seoul said Kim Yong Chol enjoys privileges from businesses and organizations that earn foreign currency, including receiving a luxury house and car. This caused conflict between him and senior brass such as O Kuk Ryol, vice chairman of the North’s most powerful organization National Defense Commission.

O is known to hate Kim Yong Chol, saying, “He’s running wild. I`ll raise my hand against him.”

Kim Yong Chol is a hardliner who worked for the North’s delegation for the inter-Korea summit. In 2008, he came to the Kaesong business complex on behalf of Kim Jong Il as the policy bureau chief of the commission, restricting land traffic between the two Koreas from Dec. 1.

Also working at the policy bureau are Maj. Gen. Pak Rim Su, who is the director, and (North) Korean People’s Army Col. Ri Son Kwon, both of whom were longtime subordinates of Kim Yong Chol in the delegation.