Intelligence chief casts doubts over time, place of Kim death

The head of South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) on Tuesday expressed cautious doubts over the time and location of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's death, parliamentary officials said, raising questions over whether the communist North tried to beautify Kim's death.

North Korea previously said Kim died early Saturday while on a train in motion during a field guidance tour.

Attending a special session of the National Assembly Intelligence Committee, NIS chief Won Sei-hoon said a special train used by the late North Korean leader was spotted stationary at Pyongyang's train station at the time of his death announced by the North, according to the parliamentary officials.

"There were no signs the train ever moved," he was quoted as telling the parliamentary committee.

The time and place of Kim's death may be very sensitive to North Korea's remaining leadership, which is apparently trying to ensure successful succession of power to Kim's youngest son Jong-un on the late leader's legacy.

The North's Korean Central News Agency reported Tuesday that North Korean people, "young and old, men and women, are calling Kim Jong-il, who gave tireless field guidance, making total dedication day and night to the happiness of the people."

The NIS chief pointed out that there had been no public appearances made by the late Kim since Friday.

He refused to comment, however, on what a ruling party legislator on the parliamentary committee called a rumor about Kim's death at his official residence in Pyongyang, saying it was a report that has yet to be confirmed.


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