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Top NK general may be blamed for landmine blast

A top North Korean military official, thought to be behind the North's deadly attacks on South Korea in 2010, has been promoted to a general again after being demoted in April, South Korean military sources said Tuesday.

Gen. Kim Yong-chol, who has been leading the North's reconnaissance bureau, is found to have been recently re-promoted to a four-star general after serving as a lieutenant general for about four months, according to the sources.

His promotion largely coincides with the explosion of three North Korean wooden-box landmines on Aug. 4, which were buried in the southern side of the heavily fortified demilitarized zone that bisects the two Koreas.

South Korea blamed North Korea for the blast, vowing to make it pay the price for its provocation. Two South Korean staff sergeants were severely injured in the incident.

The sources said that the South's military is closely checking Kim's movement in a bid to find possible clues to link his promotion to the recent landmine blast.

Kim, known as a hard-liner, is believed to have orchestrated Pyongyang's two deadly attacks on the South in 2010 -- the sinking of the Cheonan warship and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island. The two attacks killed a total of 50 South Koreans, including two civilians.

Since 2009, Kim has led the North's Reconnaissance General Bureau tasked with intelligence operations in foreign countries and cyber warfare. He was first promoted to a general in 2012 but later underwent repeated changes in his title. (Yonhap)