07/17/2012, 00.00
NORTH KOREA
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Obscure general becomes North Korea's new chief of general staff

Kim Jong-un replaces Ri Yong-ho with Hyon Yong-chol. Unknown to most, the new chief is promoted to the rank of vice marshal even though he became a general only in September 2010 along with North Korea's current dictator who continues to consolidate his power.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) - One day after Ri Yong-ho was removed as chief of general staff "due to illness," Kim Jong-un's regime has already found a replacement, General Hyon Yong-chol, who was named vice marshal. The son of the late 'dear leader' Kim Jong-il is the only marshal.

The decision was taken by the National Defence Commission, North Korea's official news agency KCNA reported. The move has surprised many observers since Hyon became a general only in September 2010 and is not from the leadership's inner circle.

However, the choice does reflect Kim Jong-un's strong desire to take full control of the military's huge power.

When Hyon was promoted to the rank of general, so were Kim Jong-un and his aunt Kim Kyong-Hui, who is grooming the new dictator. This might explain why the new chief of general staff was picked.

According to Juche, North Korea's ideology of self-reliance and militarism developed by the father of the nation Kim Il-sung, soldiers and peasants are the backbone of the country.

In 2000, Kim Il-sung's son Kim Jong-il launched his military-first policy, making the military a priority in resource allocation. The latter also urged his son to follow his path of relying on the military to hold onto power.

Despite being always on the edge of economic disaster, North Korea maintains one of the largest permanent militaries in the world in relation to the population.

 

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