On Thursday, state media reported that Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, had fired his top general amid a shakeup in the nation’s military hierarchy and wanted his troops to “prepare for war.”
According to the government-owned Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), General Pak Su Il has been removed from his position as Chief of General Staff and replaced by Vice Marshal Ri Yong Gil.
KCNA, without providing detailed information, stated that during a meeting of the Central Military Commission on Wednesday, other “principal commanding officers” were dismissed, transferred, or appointed.
On Wednesday in Pyongyang, the Central Military Commission met under the chairmanship of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
North Korea regularly reshuffles its military leadership. Some military officials re-emerge in different positions later, while others fade from the public eye.
Analysts noted that the career of the new Chief, Ri Yong Gil – who had recently taken up the position of Number 2 in the North Korean military hierarchy on December 31 – has been highlighted.
“Ri Yong Gil has been a longtime part of the military elite in North Korea, going through ups and downs in his career before rising to the top.
Professor Lee Eriksen of Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul stated that seven years ago, there were rumors that he had been executed after personnel changes,” said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute, a private think tank in Seoul.
There could be several reasons behind Kim’s military reshuffle, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be punitive, said Cho Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute in Seoul.