Kim Jong-Il Ordered Attack on S. Korean Ship: Intel Sources

North Korean leader plays tough to assert authority, boost succession of his son
By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2010 11:05 AM CDT
Kim Jong-il Ordered Attack on S. Korean Ship: Intel Sources
In this May 19, 2010, photo soldiers stand guard near the wreckage of the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan, which was sunk on March 26 near the maritime border with North Korea.    (AP Photo/Lee Jae-Won, Pool)

Kim Jong-Il not only knew about the North Korean torpedo assault that sank a South Korean warship in March, US intelligence sources tell the New York Times, but the ailing strongman actually ordered it to boost the succession prospects of his youngest son, Kim Jong-un. Both the US and South Korea have studiously avoided linking Kim to the sinking, because the evidence is soft and, the Times argues, because credit for the attack would only enhance his position among the country's hardliners.

Intelligence agencies think Kim ordered the attack to show that he's back in control after the debilitating stroke he suffered two years ago, and strong enough to ensure his son's succession. A North Korea expert tells the Times that when Kim was first establishing himself 30 years ago, “there were similar incidents designed to build his credibility.”

(More Kim Jong-Un stories.)

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