Skip to main content

New North Korean leader issued military orders, South Korea says

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:04 PM EST, Wed December 21, 2011
North Korean television Wednesday shows new leader Kim Jong Un receiving condolences from visitors.
North Korean television Wednesday shows new leader Kim Jong Un receiving condolences from visitors.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kim Jong Un issued military orders before his father's death was announced, Yonhap reports
  • The state-run news agency cites a source saying the younger Kim controls the military
  • 2 top South Korean officials are under fire for learning of Kim Jong Il's death via TV
  • A defector tells CNN of starvation inside North Korea

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- Kim Jong Un issued his first military orders as leader of North Korea just before the death of his father was announced, a South Korean state-run news agency said Wednesday.

Citing "a South Korean source," Yonhap reported that Kim "ordered all military units to halt field exercises and training and return to their bases."

The source called it a sign that Kim Jong Il's son, believed to be in his late 20s, had taken "complete control over the military," Yonhap reported.

An intelligence official said North Korea may be trying to prevent attempted defections as the country goes through a tumultuous transition, the report said.

In Seoul, questions have been raised over why South Korean intelligence was apparently unaware of Kim Jong Il's death until the official announcement.

North Koreans know little of Kim Jong Un
Kim Jong Un revealed

Both Won Sei Hoon, who heads South Korea's National Intelligence Service, and Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jim "came under fire" after admitting they learned of the death from TV news coverage, Yonhap reported.

Just over the border in Dandong, China, CNN spoke with a defector who was scared of North Korean spies watching him.

"North Koreans don't speak openly," the man said. "If anyone knows I'm talking, I would be sent to prison and there's no mercy there. I would be shot dead."

He painted a grim picture of life in North Korea, where he said people are starving, aid is scarce, and the only operating factories serve the military.

"Pig feed, that's all we can eat," he says, adding, "There is no food, not even food from China. It's been blocked for three years."

His son and daughter remain inside North Korea. He crosses back and forth every six months to keep his family alive.

He told CNN he fears a desperate country with a potential power vacuum that could lash out.

Before Kim Jong Il died, "he was preparing the country for war and death, and to hand power to Kim Jong Un," the man said.

Other North Koreans in Dandong were openly weeping over the death of their "dear leader," as he was called in his country.

North Korean state-run news agency KCNA, meanwhile, carried messages praising Kim Jong Il. The top story on the agency's English language website Wednesday, dated Tuesday, said Kim Jong Il "dedicated himself to the happiness of the people all his life."

"He had a noble wish," the KCNA report said. "It was to bring the greatest happiness and honor to the people even if he had plucked a star from the sky and grown flowers even on a rock."

CNN's Stan Grant, Chi Chi Zhang, and Josh Levs contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:35 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Three Americans detained in North Korea spoke out about their conditions Monday in an exclusive interview with CNN.
updated 4:52 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
The crowd cheers as the stars make their way to the ring for first pro-wrestling bout North Korea has seen in almost 20 years.
updated 9:37 PM EDT, Sat August 30, 2014
CNN's Will Ripley makes a rare live report from reclusive North Korea.
updated 10:45 AM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
CNN's Will Ripley is given a rare look inside North Korea and tours Kim Jong Un's pet project, a waterpark.
updated 3:18 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Several South Korean "comfort woman" attended a Papal mass, but hope the Pope will do more. Erin McLaughlin reports.
updated 10:28 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Pope Francis arrived in Seoul Thursday, marking the first papal visit to the country in 25 years.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
North Korea rejected an invitation to the Pope's Mass in Seoul. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports.
updated 6:25 PM EDT, Wed July 2, 2014
As diplomats discuss a string of unsolved kidnappings of Japanese citizens by North Korea, the families of those abducted anxiously wait.
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
updated 11:13 PM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
North Korea says it plans to prosecute two American tourists that it detained earlier this year, accusing them of "perpetrating hostile acts."
updated 7:38 PM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
North Korea proposed that "all hostile military activities" with South Korea be halted, but it attached conditions that Seoul is likely to reject.
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
North Korean state news is reporting the country test-launched "cutting-edge ultra precision tactical guided missiles."
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
James Franco won't be following Dennis Rodman into North Korea anytime soon.
updated 7:04 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
Don't you hate it when the weatherman gets it wrong? Apparently, so does Kim Jong Un.
updated 7:44 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
New signs show Russia and North Korea are developing a closer relationship.
updated 8:12 PM EDT, Wed May 21, 2014
Photographer Eric Lafforgue visited North Korea and shares his inside look at the most isolated country in the world.
updated 9:25 PM EDT, Mon May 12, 2014
Many North Koreans listen to illegal broadcasts on homemade radios, some are convinced to defect.
updated 3:26 PM EDT, Thu May 8, 2014
Jang Jin-Sung, a North Korean defector and former regime insider, speaks with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
ADVERTISEMENT