N Korea names new army vice marshal

2012-07-17 08:00


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seoul - North Korea has named a new army vice marshal, state media said on Tuesday, as part of a reshuffle apparently aimed at tightening young leader Kim Jong-Un's grip on the communist state's powerful military.

Hyon Yong-Chol, a veteran field commander, was awarded "the title of vice marshal of the Korean People's Army", one of four people in the North to hold the rank, said Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Analysts said Hyon was highly likely to become head of the 1.2-million-strong military, taking over from Vice Marshal Ri Yong-Ho, the chief of the general staff, who was relieved of all his posts on Sunday.

Hyon became a general in September 2010 along with five others including new leader Kim Jong-Un and his aunt Kim Kyong-Hui.

"Hyon is expected to succeed Ri Yong-Ho," as head of the military, Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said.

He was also likely to take over Ri's other key posts - a member of the Presidium of the Politburo of the party Central Committee and a vice chairperson of the Central Military Commission, analysts said.


Cheong Seong-Chang of the Sejong Institute said since Hyon's promotion to a general in 2010, he had been seen as one of the key figures expected to play a role in Kim Jong-Un gaining control over the military.

"It appears that the North is taking steps to appoint Hyon to replace Ri," Cheong said.

But he noted that Hyon had not joined the powerful Central Military Commission of the party and had not accompanied the leader during his public appearances this year.

In contrast, Ri was a highly visible figure and a key supporter of Kim following the death in December of his father Kim Jong-Il, the North's longtime leader.

The official reason given for Ri's departure was illness but analysts expressed scepticism, saying the move showed the young leader was reinforcing his control over the military.

Analysts said Ri's fall from power was inevitable after Choe Ryong-Hae, a civilian party official, became the military's top political commissar - Director of the General Political Bureau.

Hostile rhetoric

Despite having little military experience, Choe was also appointed as a vice marshal. He was also made one of the two vice chairpersons of the party Central Military Commission - a key organ handling military affairs chaired by Kim.

The other vice chairperson was Ri.

"This is all part of Jong-Un's move to tame the military," Yoo Dong-Ryul, senior researcher at the state Police Science Institute, said.

"Ri must have resented Choe's assuming control over the military and his complaints reached Jong-Un's ears."

Little is known about Hyon, but he is believed to be from a family who fought alongside North Korea's founding father Kim Il-Sung against Japanese forces during the colonial era.

The North's military has in recent months ratcheted up hostile rhetoric towards South Korea and its President Lee Myung-Bak, partly in a bid to burnish Kim Jong-Un's credentials.

Nuclear arsenal

Ri, at a massive anti-Seoul rally in Pyongyang in March, called South Korean leaders "mad dogs" and "psychos" and declared a "sacred war" against Seoul for allegedly insulting the North's leadership.

The impoverished North last month also denounced US-South Korean drills near the tense border as a provocation and vowed to bolster its "nuclear deterrent".

North Korea's military has been building up nuclear arsenal and seeking to extend the range of its missiles, sparking international condemnation and sanctions.

The North on 13 April launched what it called a satellite-carrying rocket but failed to put it into orbit in an apparently disguised long-range ballistic missile test banned under UN resolutions.

Read more on:    kim jong-un  |  south korea  |  north korea  |  north korea nuclear programme

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.