Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK state media reported on 16 July (Monday) that former commander of the VIII Army Corps, Gen. Hyon Yong Chol (Hyo’n Yo’ng-ch’o’l) was promoted to the rank of Vice Marshal in a joint decision “by the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the National Defence Commission of the DPRK.” Hyon’s promotion occurred one day after VMar Ri Yong Ho was removed from “all of his posts in the DPRK” due to ill health at a Sunday (17 July) meeting of the Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee Political Bureau While KCNA reported that Ri was removed from “all of his posts,” there was no explicit notice of his removal from the office of Chief of the KPA General Staff.
Given the speed with which Hyon was promoted, it is highly likely that he has replaced Ri. It could take several days, even a few weeks, before Hyon’s appointment is publicized. Ri Yong Ho was appointed Chief of the KPA General Staff in February 2009, however he was not identified in that position by DPRK state media until March 2009 when he participated in the election of deputies (delegates) to the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly.
Hyon Yong Chol was awarded the title of vice marshal of the Korean People’s Army.
A decision on awarding the title was made by the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the National Defence Commission of the DPRK on Monday.
North Korea announced Tuesday that it has promoted Army Gen. Hyon Yong-chol to the post of vice marshal.
“Hyon Yong-chol was awarded the title of vice marshal of the Korean People’s Army,” said the KCNA, the communist nation’s state news agency.
“A decision on awarding the title was made by the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the National Defense Commission of the DPRK on Monday,” it added in a brief dispatch, monitored in Seoul. DPRK is the acronym for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
On Monday, the North announced that Vice Marshal Ri Yong-ho, its top military commander known as a guardian of the North’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, was relieved of all of his posts due to “illness.” Kim is reportedly in his late 20s.
The unexpected personnel move sparked media speculation in South Korea and foreign nations over the possibility of a power struggle or other political changes in the reclusive nation.
A biography on VMar Hyon Yong Chol is available here.