Power struggle rages in North Korean regime: Report

Factional in-fighting reportedly breaks out in the ruling Workers` Party.

Updated: Sep 26, 2010, 13:49 PM IST

London: Rumours are reportedly doing the rounds that a major power struggle is being waged in North Korea as the country`s reclusive leader, Kim Jong-il, prepares to anoint his successor.

Factional in-fighting has already broken out in the ruling Workers` Party -- between Chang Song-taek, the regime`s second-in-command, and some top reform-minded officials, `The Daily Telegraph` quoted a source, who recently met with high-ranking North Korean officials, as saying.

The battle between the two sides comes as an ailing Kim Jong-il, the 68-year-old "Dear Leader", is yet to present a concrete succession plan.

64-year-old Chang is married to Kim`s sister and "always believed the crown would be his (one day)," according to the source.

His ambition may yet be fulfilled, since analysts feel that he could take charge of the state as a regent while Kim`s third son, the 28-year-old Kim Jong-un, gains experience, the report said.

However, Chang has recently seen his hardline views being challenged by a group of reformists, bent on opening up the North Korean economy to Chinese-style capitalism.

"There are normal people who know which direction they have to go in. The government does want to open up, and the only thing stopping them from doing so is Chang," said the source, who was approached by top North Korean officials and asked to invest in the country.

The views of the Army high command could be critical in the struggle in North Korea, and the source said Chang had recently been attempting to bolster his support in that area.

"The Army has to throw its lot in (with one of the groups) and I don`t think it has made its mind up yet," he said.

The split in the Workers` Party may have prompted the recent two-week delay of the first party conference for nearly 45 years; it`s is now due to begin next week.

PTI