“Despite the fact that after I am gone, it will still not be too late to use your people, why are you in such a rush to try to handle things your way?”–Kim Jong Il, December 2011
Col. Gen. Jon Chang Bok has been appointed as the DPRK’s senior vice minister of defense. Col. Gen. Jon, the former director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Logistics Department, was identified as 1st Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces when he attended Kim Jong Un’s (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visit to the 20 February Foodstuffs Factory of the KPA. Jon Chang Bok is a member of the Party Central Committee and was a member of the National Funeral Committee for Kim Jong Il. His last observed public appearance was his attendance with KJU at a May Day-themed concert by the U’nhasu Orchestra in early May 2013. Jon also visited Ku’msusan Memorial Palace with KJU and other members of the central leadership on the anniversary of late leader Kim Jong Il’s birth in February 2013. In March 2013, Jon delivered the keynote speech at the opening of the Taeso’ngsan General Hospital in Pyongyang. He also joined members of the core leadership when they escorted the Moranbong Band on a visit and performance at KPA Large Combined Unit (taeyonhap pudae) #630. In August 2011, Col. Gen. Jon led a KPA delegation on an official visit to China.
Jon replaces VMar Hyon Chol Hae, a former close military aide to Kim Jong Il. VMar Hyon was appointed 1st Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces in April 2012 and was also elected a full member of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Political Bureau and a member of the Party Central Military Commission. From 2007 to 2012, VMar Hyon was director of the National Defense Commission [NDC] Standing Bureau, which was responsible for logistical and security arrangements for Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un field inspections of KPA units. During the 3rd Party Conference in September 2010, Hyon sat in the gallery to Kim Jong Un’s left. From 1995 to 2007 VMar Hyon was a deputy director of the KPA General Political Department, with responsibility for organization. From 1986 to 1995, Hyon served as Director of the KPA General Logistics Department (under the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces). He was reappointed Director of the GLD in April 2012, replacing Jon Chang Bok. It is not clear if Hyon has been removed from his GLD position, which may have been reclaimed by Jon Chang Bok. It is not clear if Hyon’s removal from office is an actual “purge” or if it is tied to the last week’s dismissal of Gen. Kim Kyok Sik as Minister of the People’s Armed Forces.
Hyon is the latest DPRK elite affected by a series of personnel changes in the party, the government and security organizations. In February 2013, Col. Gen. Choe Pu Il replaced Gen. Ri Myong Su as Minister of the People’s Security. Col. Gen. Ri Yong Gil replace Choe Pu Il as Chief of the KPA General Staff Operations Bureau In March 2013, Paek Kye Ryong replaced Pak Pong Ju as Director of the KWP Light Industry Department and Yun U Chol replaced Kim Ki Ryong as editor of the KWP’s daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun. In April 2013, Pak Pong Ju was re-appointed DPRK Cabinet Premier, replacing Choe Yong Rim, who was elected Honorary Vice President of the Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA]. Former President of the State Academy of Social Sciences Tae Hyong Chol was appointed President of Kim Il Sung University, replace Song Ja Rip. Tae vacated his position as SPA Secetary-General and was replaced by Hong Son Ok. April 2013 also found Ri Yong Yong appointed Minister of Coal Industry, replacing Kim Hyong Sik. In May 2013 Choe Hwi appere to have replaced Ri Jae Il as the Senior Deputy of the KWP Propaganda and Agitation [publicity and information] Department.