Another Pyongyang crash injures brother-in-law of Kim Jong-Il

Special to World
Friday, October 13, 2006

Jang Song-Taek Washington Post
SEOUL ó A North Korean military vehicle struck a Mercedes in which Kim Jong-Ilís brother-in-law was a passenger, according to press reports here.

Jang Song-Taek escaped with a back injury but his car was totaled last month in downtown Pyongyang, South Koreaís Daily NK reported, quoting North Korean sources.

Numerous traffic accidents have been reported in Pyongyang over the years, often involving senior party officials, even though traffic is infrequent in the communist capital.

In another family disaster, Jang's daughter committed suicide in August while studying in Paris, South Korean officials said.

Eyewitnesses said that Jangís Mercedes Benz S600 was making a left turn at the intersection when a truck from a North Korean military unit hit the car from behind, according to the report.

Intelligence sources here said the accident occurred near the intersection of the North Korean Peoples Armyís acrobat theater in the Moranbong District.

Intelligence sources said the incident differed from other suspicious car accidents such as the one involving Party Secretary Kim Yong-Soon, which involved drunken driving following a late-night party hosted by Kim Jong-Il in 2003.

In this case, Jang was being chauffeured by his driver in broad daylight, alcohol was probably not involved, and the incident occurred in the capital city where a policewoman was directing traffic. There were many witnesses and the news spread throughout the country.

Intelligence sources say North Koreans assume the accident was an attempt on the life of Jang, who was once rumored to be a candidate to succeed Kim Jong-Il. But Jang was ousted from the party secretaryís position in 2004. He was restored to the current position late last year.

Jang, who married Kim Jong-Ilís sister Kyung-Hee, was called a "branch of the main tree" by supporters of Kim Jong-Ilís wife Ko Young-Hee, who died of cancer in 2004.

Jangís only daughter, Kum-Song, died from an overdose of sleeping pills while studying in Paris in August. She was reportedly suffering from insomnia after having been ordered by Pyongyang to return home.

Jang's current official position is director of Capital Construction Division One.

Copyright © 2006 East West Services, Inc.

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