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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Signs of Power Struggle in Pyongyang

SEOUL, South Korea -- Leaflets calling for the ousting of designated North Korean leader Kim Jong-il have been scattered in the diplomatic district of the capital Pyongyang, a report said Tuesday.

It would be the first overt sign of a power struggle against the late North Korean President Kim Il-sung's son and heir-apparent to be reported from the North.

The South Korean national news agency Yonhap quoted an unidentified Western diplomat in Seoul as saying the leaflets were dropped at embassies in North Korea's capital Friday night or Saturday morning.

That neighborhood is off-limits to North Korean citizens, so the appearance of the leaflets seemed to indicate that some faction among the North Korean power elite was behind them.

Foreign diplomats reported the incident to their home capitals, Yonhap quoted the diplomat as saying.

On Sunday, Radio Pyongyang broadcast an appeal to North Koreans warning that unless Kim's dynastic succession is assured, "ambitious persons and conspirators" could undermine the Communist Party.

The broadcast, summarized by Radio Press, a media monitoring service in Tokyo, did not mention the leaflet incident. But the broadcast seemed to stray from other official proclamations that the issue of Kim Jong-il's succession had been settled.

The failure of the younger Kim to assume publicly full leadership of the Workers Party of the secretive communist state six weeks after his father's death has left Korea-watchers wondering whether there has been some problem with the succession.

When linked with the report of the leaflets, the broadcast sounds as if it portends a power struggle, or a move by Kim Jong-il to lay the groundwork for a pre-emptive purge of potential rivals.