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N. Korean leader Kim Jong-un made marshal

Publication Date : 19-07-2012


Announcement comes two days into a top army officer's dismissal, which sparked speculation over a military power struggle


North Korea yesterday announced that its leader Kim Jong-un had been given the title of marshal -- the highest military rank after grand marshal held only by his late grandfather Kim Il-sung and late father Kim Jong-il.

"A decision was made to confer the title of marshal upon comrade Kim Jong-un, supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army," the North’s state media said in a "crucial report" broadcast at noon.

The report appears intended to show that the fledgling leader is successfully in full control of the 1.19-million-strong military. It came after the North on Monday revealed the dismissal of its General Staff Chief Ri Yong-ho, which sparked speculation over a military power struggle.

The report was announced under the names of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, the party’s Central Military Commission, the National Defence Commission and the Supreme People’s Assembly.

Kim, thought to be in his late 20s, was made a four-star general in September 2010. After his father and longtime strongman Kim Jong-il died last December, he was appointed as the supreme commander, a wartime position in charge of all armed services.

There are three ranks above four-star general. Only Kim’s grandfather and father hold the highest rank of grand marshal.

Kim Jong-un is the sixth to receive the second-highest marshal rank. Late Ministers of People’s Armed Forces O Jin-woo and Choe Gwang also held the rank. Ri Ul-sol, a current member of the party’s Central Committee, also holds the marshal rank.

There are nine officers with the third-highest vice marshal rank. They include Choe Ryong-hae, director of the General Political Bureau, and longtime field commander Hyon Yong-chol, cited as a possible candidate for general chief of staff.

National founder and President Kim Il-sung was made a marshal in 1953, the first in the reclusive state’s history. He was made a grand marshal in 1992 ahead of his 80th birthday. He died in 1994.

Kim Jong-il was made a marshal after being appointed supreme commander in 1992. After his death last December, he was posthumously given the title of grand marshal in February.


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