North Korea on Tuesday announced promotion of Army General Hyon Yong-chol to the post of Vice Marshal, a day after the unexpected sacking of incumbent Ri Yong-ho, a well-known confidant of the Communist nation's young leader Kim Jong-un.
"Hyon Yong-chol was awarded the title of Vice Marshal of the Korean People's Army," said the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
"A decision on awarding the title was made by the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea and the National Defense Commission of the DPRK on Monday," a brief statement carried by KCNA said.
Little known to the outside world, Hyon is widely assumed to be in his early 60s and to have served in a field army in charge of border defense. He is one of several emerging stars under the Kim Jong-un regime.
Hyon was promoted to a four-star General in September 2010 when Kim Jong-un was also awarded the same rank in the North's first clearest signal over the power transfer to the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's youngest son.
Citing illness, North Korea relieved Ri of all his posts at the Workers' Party of (North) Korea, and the Presidium of the Political Bureau. Ri is also believed to have lost his position as the Chief of General Staff.
Quoting experts on North Korea, the Yonhap news agency reports that Hyon's surprise ascent to the core of the governing military class heralds a far-reaching reshuffle or a shift in generations within the military.
"Promoting a field-grade officer to a key military post signals that Kim Jong-un is attempting to reorganize the military structure with figures close to him," the news agency reported quoting an unnamed South Korean official.
by RTT Staff Writer
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