SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has fired his top general amid a shakeup of the country’s military leadership and wants his military to “prepare for war,” it has reported. this Thursday state media.
General Pak Su Il was sacked as chief of the General Staff and Vice Marshal Ri Yong Gil was appointed in his place, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Other “top commanders” were fired, transferred or appointed during a meeting of the Central Military Commission on Wednesday, the KCNA reported, without elaborating.
North Korea regularly renews its military leadership. Some military leaders later reemerge in different positions, while others disappear from public view.
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kim jong un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un addresses a meeting of the Central Military Commission in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday. (Credit: KCNA/Handout/Reuters)
And the career of new top general Ri, who took over the No. 2 spot in North Korea’s military hierarchy on Dec. 31, reflects that, analysts said.
“Ri Yong Gil is a long-standing member of North Korea’s military elite who, before reaching the top, experienced ups and downs during his career. Seven years ago, he was even rumored to have been executed after a staff shakeup,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul.
Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the private think tank Sejong Institute near Seoul, said there may be a variety of reasons behind Kim’s military reshuffle and it was not necessarily punitive.
“Since Kim Jong Un has frequently promoted, demoted and fired senior officers according to their ability to perform his duties, firing them may hold them accountable, but it is not appropriate to regard it as punishment,” Cheong said. .
Easley said the North Korean leader may simply be trying to make sure no one under him becomes too powerful.
“Kim Jong Un frequently rotates leadership positions under him to prevent the rise in North Korea of someone like [Wagner Group founder] Yevgeny Prigozhin, who challenged the authority of Russian President Vladimir Putin after amassing the personal control of financial assets and loyalty among the armed forces,” Easley said.
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“A serious military situation”
The military leadership shakeup was mentioned only near the end of the KCNA report, which focused more on what it said was the “important issue of making the military more war-ready given the dire political and military situation that prevails.” on the Korean peninsula.
South Korea and its main ally, the United States, were not mentioned by name in the report. However, he seemed to refer to them indirectly, saying that the meeting “analyzed the military movements of the main culprits in the deterioration of the situation” on the peninsula.
“Making full preparations for war” was the top item on the meeting’s agenda, according to the KCNA report.
“The current situation, in which hostile forces are becoming increasingly apparent in their reckless military confrontation with the DPRK, [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] requires the latter’s military to be more positive, proactive and overwhelmingly willed. and a military preparation for a war”, he said.
North Korea has stepped up its military rhetoric this summer, threatening to shoot down US reconnaissance planes and retaliate for the arrival in South Korea of a US nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarine for the first time in four decades.
Pyongyang has also shown off its advances in ballistic missile technology, last month testing what it said was a Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a flight time that suggests it has the capability to strike the mainland US. USA
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That weapon was one of many others displayed at what North Korea called its “Victory Day” parade last month, a commemoration of the armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War 70 years ago. Technically, the two Koreas are still at war as a formal peace treaty has never been signed.
At this Wednesday’s meeting in Pyongyang, Kim signed orders for war exercises.