North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

KPA Promotions Issued for the Day of the Shining Star

Second Economy Commission Chairman Paek Se Bong (highlighted) applauds at the start of a national report meeting for Kim Jong Il's birthday on 15 February 2012. Paek was given the rank of Colonel General (sangjang) in a military promotions list issued on the occasion of KJI's 70th birthday. At past national events, Paek had been observed wearing business suits (Photo: KCNA-Yonhap)

In one of his first public acts as Korean People’s Army [KPA] Supreme Commander, Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) promoted 23 officials of security organizations to general-grade officers’ ranks, as part of the commemoration of Kim Jong Il’s official 70th birthday.  At the top of the list were three senior managers of the country’s military industries, all of whom are linked directly or peripherally to the country’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Pak To Chun, a central party secretary and the successor of Jon Pyong Ho, was given the rank of 4-star general (taejang).  Ju Kyu Chang, director of the KWP Machine-Building Industries Department (formerly known as the Munitions Industry Department) and a past president of the Second Academy of Natural Science [SANS], was promoted to Colonel General (sangjang).  Also promoted to Col. Gen. was Paek Se Bong (Paek Se-pong), who serves as Chairman of the Second Economy Commission [SEC] (a.k.a 2nd Economic Committee) which  operates the 200-odd factories and facilities comprising the country’s weapons and logistics business.  All three of these officials are members of the National Defense Commission [NDC].  When Jang Song Taek’s appointment as General is added in, all members and vice-chairmen of the NDC and the Party Central Military Commission [CMC] now hold the rank of Colonel General, or higher.

From an image of a national report meeting held on 15 February 2012, highlighted are Pak To Chun (2nd Row, L), Ju Kyu Chang (2nd Row, 2nd L) and Kim Yong Chol (3rd Row, R), all of whom were given military promotions on the occasion of KJI's birthday. (Photo: KBS screen grab)

Kim Yong Chol, a former bodyguard turned intelligence manager, received his fourth star and was promoted to General.  Kim heads the Reconnaissance General Bureau, under the NDC and Ministry of People’s Armed Forces and was promoted Colonel General in April 2010.   Kim Myong Sik, chief of the KPA Navy [KPN] East Sea Command, was promoted to Lt. General, along with 18 other officers and officials.  This latter category of promotions involves Kim Jong Un in contiuing to develop his political support network within the KPA. KCNA reports:

Kim Jong Un, supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, on Wednesday issued Order No. 003 on promoting the military ranks of KPA commanding officers.

In the order he said that the Korean revolutionary armed forces, which have reliably guaranteed the revolutionary cause of Juche with arms for 80 years since their birth was declared in the thick forests of Mt. Paektu, are now strikingly demonstrating their dignity as elite army of Mt. Paektu in defence of the country and building of a thriving socialist nation while further adding luster to the glorious tradition of devotedly defending the leader.

He ordered to promote the military ranks of KPA commanding officers, the core of the Workers’ Party of Korea and vanguard fighters of the Songun revolution, on the occasion of the significant Day of the Shining Star, expressing firm belief that they would in the future, too, remain loyal to the WPK’s leadership over the Songun revolution, as befitting the descendants of President Kim Il Sung and soldiers and disciples of leader Kim Jong Il, and fully discharge their duties in the sacred struggle to successfully accomplish the revolutionary cause of Juche generation after generation.

According to the order, Pak To Chun and Kim Yong Chol have been promoted to General, Ju Kyu Chang, Paek Se Bong and Kim Song Chol to Col. General and Kim Myong Sik, Hyon Sun Hak and 16 others to Lieut. General.

A separate joint promotion by the Party Central Committee, CMC and NDC was publicized.  In what appears to be a collective act, Kim Jong Gak, NDC Member and senior deputy (1st vice) director of the KPA General Political Department, was given the title of Vice Marshal (ch’asu).  KCNA reports:

The Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the National Defence Commission of the DPRK decided to award the title of Vice Marshal of the Korean People’s Army to Kim Jong Gak.

The decision was made public on Wednesday.


4 comments on “KPA Promotions Issued for the Day of the Shining Star

  1. Matthew

    Interesting. I wonder if he felt threatened by any of these people in any way?

  2. Ryongdoja

    Great observation on the military industries officials. I went back to find Kim Yong Chol’s April 2010 promotion but wasn’t able to find it. Could you point me in the right direction? Also, the Kim Song Chol you mention is different from the one listed in 2011 (김송철 vice 김성철). Keep up the good work.

  3. Pingback: KPA Promotions Issued for the Day of the Shining Star | NK News

  4. Pingback: Weekly News Brief – 18 February 2012 « NORTH KOREA NEWS BRIEF

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