North Korea appoints new military leader | News | DW | 17.07.2012
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North Korea appoints new military leader

North Korea has named a new vice marshal to help lead its military. The announcement comes a day after the dismissal of the country’s army chief.

North Korea appointed a military general relatively unknown outside Pyongyang to vice marshal, according to North Korea's state media on Tuesday. The promotion came only one day after the dismissal of the country's army chief.

Analysts see the timing of the announcement as a signal that the new vice marshal, Hyon Yong-Chol, will soon replace the former army chief, Ri Yong-Ho.

North Korea appointed its fourth new vice marshal, Hyon Yong-Chol since April

North Korea appointed a new vice marshal, Hyon Yong-Chol, shortly after dismissing its military chief

Since April, communist leader Kim Jong-Un has appointed several vice marshals to help lead the North Korean People's army of 1.2 million soldiers. Hyon's appointment is the fourth promotion amid what appears to be a reshuffling of Kim's inner circle.

Military changes raise questions

Analysts are still speculating what Kim Jong-Un's most recent military decisions mean. They view former military chief Ri's ousting as part of Kim's transition into the role of supreme leader since taking office seven months ago.

State media reported that Ri had been dismissed due to illness, but analysts say they still don't know what Ri did to lose his title.

“Perhaps [Ri] was always meant to be a transitional regent figure, and his function is played,” said John Delury, an assistant professor at Yonsei University's Graduate School of International Studies in South Korea told the Associated Press.

Kim Jong-Un's changes to the military come amid threats of military action toward South Korea. Last month, North Korea deemed US-South Korean military drills a provocation and a “prelude to an invasion.”

kms/ng (AFP, AP)