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Analysts say major changes in North Korea policy unlikely

Publication Date : 19-07-2012


The recent leadership reshuffle in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (or North Korea) sends a signal of reform, but big policy changes are highly unlikely, analysts said yesterday as it's leader Kim Jong-un was granted the title of marshal.

The North Korea wants to show relevant countries that it would like to initiate reform, so that it could be accepted by the international community, said Wang Junsheng, an expert of East Asian studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"But it is still hard to say what kind of changes Kim will propose to make ... significant changes are almost impossible in short term," Wang said.

Zhang Liangui, an expert on Korean Peninsula studies at the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said Pyongyang has shown little sign of changing its military-first policy and nuclear plans.

The North Korea's Korean Central News Agency said yesterday that "a decision was made to award the title of Marshal of the North Korea to Kim Jong-un, supreme commander of the Korean People's Army".

According to KCNA, the decision was made on Tuesday by the nation's top military, government and political officials. Kim already serves as supreme commander of the North Korea army's 1.2 million soldiers.

Beijing yesterday endorsed Kim's new title, according to the Foreign Ministry.

"China and the DPRK [North Korea] are friendly neighbours, and we wish that under the leadership of Comrade Kim Jong-un and the Workers' Party of Korea, the various courses of the DPRK will see further development," ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

Kim's new title is "another brick in the wall" of his power consolidation across party, state and military institutions, John Delury, an analyst on North Korea studies at Yonsei University in the Republic of Korea, told The Associated Press.

"The announcement on Wednesday was aimed at boosting domestic stability," Zhang said.

"The recent spate of post changes are unexpected, and it is also not surprising to see more tweaks and reshuffles among Pyongyang's officers of middle and high level."

Kim's new title comes seven months into his rule after the death of his father, former top leader of the country, and follows reshuffling at the highest levels of the military. In a party meeting held on Sunday, Ri Yong-ho, a high-ranking figure in both political and military circles and seen as a close adviser, was removed from all his political and military positions due to an illness, KCNA said.


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