North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

DPRK State Media Confirms Defense Minister Appointment

Minister of the People's Armed Forces Gen. Kim Kyong Sik attends a KPA loyalty rally on 17 December 2012 (L), poses for a commemorative photograph in 2010 (C) and visits Ku'msusan on 24 December 2012 (Photos: Rodong Sinmun and KCTV screengrab)

Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Gen. Kim Kyong Sik attends a KPA loyalty rally on 17 December 2012 (L), poses for a commemorative photograph in 2010 (C) and visits Ku’msusan on 24 December 2012 (Photos: Rodong Sinmun and KCTV screengrab)

The DPRK’s English-language state media has confirmed that Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (Kim Kyo’k-sik) was appointed Minister of the People’s Armed Forces.  Gen. Kim was presumed to have been appointed the DPRK’s defense minister mid-November.  He has appeared in state media among the country’s senior officials in November and December, including national events commemorating the first anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death and a statue dedication ceremony in Hamhu’ng, South Hamgyo’ng Province.  On 28 December (Monday) KCNA reported that the foreign military attache corps stationed in the DPRK presented a floral basket and letter congratulating Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) on the one-year anniversary of his appointment as Korean People’s Army [KPA] Supreme Commander.  According to KCNA, Gen. Kim Kyok Sik, identified as Minister of the People’s Armed Forces,  received the flowers and note on KJU’s behalf from Iran’s Hassan Reza Husseini, dean of the Pyongyang-based military attaches.

Kim Jong Gak attends a 16 December 2012 memorial service for KJI (L), poses for a 2010 commemorative photograph (C) and attends the opening of a Pyongyang snack bar in late October 2012 (Photos: Rodong Sinmun and KCTV screengrabs)

Kim Jong Gak attends a 16 December 2012 memorial service for KJI (L), poses for a 2010 commemorative photograph (C) and attends the opening of a Pyongyang snack bar in late October 2012 (Photos: Rodong Sinmun and KCTV screengrabs)

Kim Kyok Sik’s predecessor as Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, VMar Kim Jong Gak, was removed from office in early November, only six months after his appointment.  Nether VMar Kim’s dismissal nor Gen. Kim’s replacement of him were reported by state media.  On 19 November, Gen. Kim was seen greeting Kim Jong Un during KJU’s inspection of a Korean People’s Army [KPA] equestrian unit in east Pyongyang.  During that inspection Gen. Kim was positioned among senior principals of the DPRK’s national security community.  Even though Kim Jong Gak was removed from his senior position, he remains part of DPRK political culture as a member of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Political Bureau and may been reassigned to another position.  Kim Jong Gak attended a national memorial service commemorating the first anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death and was part of a central leadership visit to the Ku’msusan Memorial Palace of the Sun.

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