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 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 and hope.
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.
updated 10:06 AM EDT, Tue May 13, 2014
iReporter Kenny Zhu visited North Korea in April and was able to take video footage and photos with his Google Glass during the trip.
updated 2:42 PM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
North Korea loves saber-rattling. Here's a look at all the firepower they have stockpiled.
updated 8:03 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
CNN's Elise Labott reports on the new baby pictures of Kim Jong Un released by North Korean state media.
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
Experts warn that under Kim Jong Un's rule, Pyongyang has shown an even greater willingness to raise the stakes than before.
updated 9:14 AM EDT, Tue March 18, 2014
China and North Korea criticize a U.N. report that found crimes against humanity committed in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
updated 8:05 AM EDT, Mon March 17, 2014
Megumi Yokota was only 13 when she was abducted by a North Korean agent in the 1970s. What happened after that?
updated 12:30 AM EDT, Wed March 12, 2014
Report: North Korea uses multiple techniques to defy sanctions, and shows no signs of abandoning its nuclear missile programs.
ADVERTISEMENT