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Top S Korean officials remain unaware of DPRK leader's death before announcement: report

12-20-2011 16:00 BJT Special Report:DPRK top leader Kim Jong Il dies |

SEOUL, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's defense chief and the spy agency head on Tuesday admitted they remained unaware of the reported death of Kim Jong Il, the top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), for two days until the news hit.

The revelation came a day after the DPRK's state media reported Kim, 69, died on Dec. 17 of a heart failure on a train, a shock to South Korean government officials who went scrambling to hold a series of emergency meetings and put military on heightened alert.

Before dropping the bombshell, the DPRK's state TV announced there would be a "special announcement" at noon, but officials in Seoul still failed to take a hint.

"I learned of it on the news," Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said during a special meeting of the parliamentary defense committee on Tuesday, according to Yonhap News Agency. "(I) do feel the desperate need to enhance our intelligence capabilities."

Separately, Won Sei-hoon, head of the National Intelligence Service, also told the parliamentary committee on intelligence that he had no clue before watching news.

The South Korean government is coming under criticism for what critics say was a blatant intelligence failure.

President Lee Myung-bak, among others, traveled to Japan on the day of Kim Jong Il's death for talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. He celebrated his 70th birthday on Monday before the news hit media outlets.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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