Train carrying gifts for N. Korea’s heir derails: report


SEOUL — A train carrying birthday gifts for North Korea’s future leader derailed this month in a possible act of revolt by the regime’s opponents, a Seoul-based radio station targeting North Koreans said Monday. Open Radio for North Korea said the Pyongyang-bound train carrying gifts for Kim Jong-Un, the youngest son and heir apparent of leader Kim Jong-Il, derailed upon departing from Sinuiju, on the border with China, on Dec.11. It quoted a military intelligence official in the North’s northwestern province of North Pyongan as saying sabotage may have caused the crash.

“The North’s railways are so outdated… but in this case, the railway tracks were so badly ruined that it looks like someone intentionally damaged them when the train was about to pass,” the intelligence official was quoted as saying. The South’s National Intelligence Service said it was checking the report. Jong-Un, believed aged 27, was in September made a four-star general and given senior posts in the ruling communist party during the North’s biggest political meeting for three decades. The source said the gifts for Jong-Un, whose birthday is on Jan. 8, include a large number of expensive watches and TVs. Kim Jong-Il, 68, took over from his own father Kim Il-Sung. He is known to be accelerating the power transfer to his third son after suffering from a stroke in 2008. But Seoul-based groups with contacts in the North have reported public skepticism about another hereditary succession, especially in light of Jong-Un’s youth and inexperience and the poor state of the economy. In an attempt not to draw attention to his age, the regime has ordered officials to stop calling Jong-Un by his previous title of “Young General,” Yonhap news agency reported, citing North Korean sources in China.

It has ordered its diplomats and other officials in China to refer to the son as “Dear Comrade” or “Dear vice chairman of (the communist party’s) central military commission,” they said.

The Kim dynasty has ruled the country with an iron fist since it was founded in 1948.