North Korea’s Kim Sacks Military Top Brass

North Korea has sacked Pak Jong-chon, the second most powerful military official after leader Kim Jong-un, state media reported. Pak, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party and a secretary of the party’s Central Committee, was replaced by Ri Yong-gil at the committee’s annual meeting last week, the official KCNA news agency said on Jan 1.

Ri is former defence minister. He will also act as vice chairman of the commission which is led by Kim himself. Pak is among several officials who were replaced during the 6th Enlarged Plenary Meeting of the 8th WPK Central Committee.

No reason for the change was given. Pyongyang regularly revamps its leadership and the year-end party gathering has often been used to announce personnel reshuffles and major policy decisions. The party’s Central Military Commission, which is headed by Kim, is considered the country’ most powerful military decision-making body, above the defence ministry. –agencies/adj/mgm

Ri Yong-gil