Kim tightens his grip on army with a new rank

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Kim Jong-un has been granted a new title, apparently to cement the North Korean leader's control of the armed forces amid a top-level shake-up.

Reports said that soldiers danced in the streets of Pyongyang as Mr Kim was named marshal, the highest rank in the military and a title previously held by his father and grandfather. While he already holds the title of supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, observers said it will further tighten his grip following several days of reshuffles of the armed forces' highest ranks.State media said North Korea's military, government and political leadership had decided to award the title to Mr Kim, who succeeded his father, Kim Jong-il, in December.

The announcement and public presentation of the new military leadership comes three days after the dismissal of army chief Ri Yong-ho, a high-ranking figure in both political and military circles. Analysts say he was considered a close adviser to Mr Kim.

A day later, another general, Hyon Yong-chol, was promoted to vice-marshal, joining three others named to that rank in February and April.

General Hyon became a member of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party, a key decision-making body, in 2010, and was on the funeral committee for Kim Jong-il. Yesterday he was named as army chief.

Soldiers and students in uniform filled the plazas of the capital to celebrate, dancing in the rain. "I am pleased that our cherished desire came into reality," Kim Jong-gum, a student at the Kang Ban-sok Revolutionary School, told the Associated Press. "18 July: This day will be remembered in our hearts as another meaningful and auspicious day."