Has Kim Jong-Un lost control of North Korea? Pyongyang is on lockdown and nation's former intelligence officer says Kim has ALREADY been overthrown
An elite exile from North Korea said Kim Jong-Un was ousted in 2013 Jang Jin-sung made the sensational assertion at a conference in Holland. The former propaganda officer said he's now just a 'puppet leader'. He claims the Organization and Guidance Department hold the real power Pyongyang in lockdown with even the elite banned from entering or leaving.
By TED THORNHILL FOR MAILONLINE and REUTERS
PUBLISHED: 08:10 GMT, 3 October 2014 | UPDATED: 12:50 GMT, 3 October 2014
A former North Korean counter-intelligence officer has claimed that Kim Jong-Un is no longer in control of the nation and is now just a 'puppet leader'.
Jang Jin-sung, who used to be an influential officer in Kim Jong-il's propaganda division, made the sensational assertion at a September conference in Holland attended by several elite exiles, it's been reported.
The capital, Pyongyang, meanwhile, has been placed into lockdown with even the elite banned from entering or leaving, according to a respected news site. This adds weight to Jin-sung's claim, as a North Korean expert said that this kind of measure is only put in place when a coup has taken place - or is suspected.
A former North Korean counter-intelligence officer has claimed that Kim Jong-Un is no longer in control of the nation
A former North Korean counter-intelligence officer has claimed that Kim Jong-Un is no longer in control of the nation Jang Jin-sung, who used to be an influential officer in Kim Jong-il's propaganda division, said Kim Jong-Un was actually overthrown in 2013.
|Jang Jin-sung, who used to be an influential officer in Kim Jong-il's propaganda division, said Kim Jong-Un was actually overthrown in 2013.|
North Korea is currently embroiled in a sort of civil war, he said in his speech.
Some officials want to keep the communist status quo, he said, others are open to elements of capitalism being introduced.
He told Vice News: 'On one hand, it's people who want to maintain a regime monopoly. On the other hand, it's not like people are fighting against the regime, but in a policy sense they want to take advantage to get influence. It's not actually consciously civil war, but there are these two incompatible forces at play.'
Remco Breuker, a professor of Korean Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, which hosted the conference, backs-up Jin-sung's statements.
He told the news site: 'The real power resides within that one department, the OGD, that was groomed to bureaucratic perfection by Kim Jong-il. It serves him [Kim Jong-Un], but it more serves the legacy of Kim Jong-il. Those don't always coincide.'
Jin-sung believes that the current North Korean regime will collapse in the near future and that Kim Jong-Un could be replaced by one of his brothers, either Kim Jong-nam, 43, or Kim Jong-chul, 33.
Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo's Waseda University and an authority on North Korean affairs, told The Telegraph that the current lockdown in the capital - revealed by the New Focus International news web site this week - could mean that the regime has become dangerously unstable.
He said: 'This sort of action suggests there has either been an attempted coup or that the authorities there have uncovered some sort of plot against the leadership.
'If it is a military-backed coup, then the situation in Pyongyang will be very dangerous and I have heard reports that Kim has been moved out of the capital.'
State media acknowledged for the first time last month that Kim Jong-Un, who assumed power in North Korea when his father died in 2011, was suffering from 'discomfort' due to unspecified health reasons, prompting speculation over what ails him.
North Korea, founded by the young Kim's grandfather when a post-Japanese colonised Korean peninsula was divided into North and South in 1945, is a hereditary dictatorship - making the health of its leaders an especially sensitive subject.
Kim, who is 31 and frequently the centrepiece of the state propaganda machine, has not been photographed by official media since appearing at a concert alongside his wife on September 3.
Footage from an event with key officials in July showed him walking with a limp.
|Hungry, sir? Kim Jong-un inspects a dining room at Seoul Ryu Kyong Su 105 Guards Tank Division of the Korean People's Army in North Korea|
North Korea acknowledges Kim Jong Un has health problems.
The leader of the impoverished nation is estimated to have ballooned to 20 stone as a result of fine wining and dining - putting enormous pressure on his feet and legs.
A source who has recently returned to the South Korean capital, Seoul, from the North said Kim is still in hospital under guard from his personal protection team.
Obese Kim is believed to have sprained then fractured his ankles during a gruelling tour of military bases and factories in shoes with Cuban heels to give him a little more height and a physical appearance of more authority.
The leader got a taste for Swiss cheese while a student in Switzerland - and is understood to love it so much that he imports vast quantities, despite Western sanctions.
'He has become noticeably overweight since he came to power,' said the un-named intelligence official.
This is not the first time Kim Jong Un has been missing from public view. For most of June 2012, six months after coming to power, state media failed to report on or photograph him for 23 days. He resurfaced the next month at a dolphinarium.