SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The North Korean military general believed behind two attacks on South Korea that killed 50 people in 2010 has died. He was 77.
The North’s main Rodong sinmun newspaper said Monday that Kim Kyok Sik died of an acute respiratory failure on Sunday.
Kim is the former commander of battalions who South Korean officials say directed North Korea’s torpedo attack on a South Korean warship in March 2010 and its artillery strikes on a South Korean border island in November that year. North Korea has denied its responsibility for the attacks on the ship.
The attacks spiked animosities between the Koreas, which have been divided along the world’s most heavily fortified border since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. South Korean economic sanctions and other punitive measures imposed after the North’s alleged torpedo attack remain in place and still serve as a source of tension between the rivals.
After the South Korean warship sinking, Kim, a four-star army general, served as the North’s armed forces minister, the equivalent of South Korea’s defense chief, and chairman of the military’s General Staff.