North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

New Minister of Defense Appointed (revised)

Gen. Jang Jong Nam has been named the Minister of the People's Armed Forces (Photo: KCNA-Yonhap)

Gen. Jang Jong Nam has been named the Minister of the People’s Armed Forces (Photo: KCNA-Yonhap)

Gen. Jang Jong Nam has been appointed Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, the DPRK’s defense minister.  Gen. Jang, whose most recent position was commanding officer of the the forward-deployed I Army Corps, was identified as Minister when he attended a performance of the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces’ Song and Dance Ensemble.  He is the third person to be appointed Minister in the last year.  He spoke at a loyalty rally of Korean People’s Army [KPA] service members and officers on the one year anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death in December 2012.  Jang also spoke at a party-army solidarity rally in July 2011.  He was promoted to Lieutenant General on late DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung’s birthday in April 2011.

Jang Jong Nam replaced Gen. Kim Kyok Sik, who was appointed in November 2012 and has served as Minister for approximately seven months.  At the March 2013 meeting of the Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee, he was elected an alternate (candidate) member of the KWP Political Bureau.  One of Gen. Kim’s last observed appearances was his attendance of a May Day-themed concert of the U’nhasu Orchestra on or around 2 May 2013.   Gen. Kim replaced VMar Kim Jong Gak, who was appointed Minister in April 2012 and served for seven months.

A graphic illustrating key departments within the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces (Graphic: Michael Madden/NK Leadership Watch)

A graphic illustrating key departments within the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces (Graphic: Michael Madden/NK Leadership Watch)

4 comments on “New Minister of Defense Appointed (revised)

  1. Pingback: Nordkoreas Wechselwut in der Führung des Sicherheitsapparates: Mögliche Hintergründe und Interpretationen | Nordkorea-Info

  2. Michael K. Ferris

    What do you think was the reason for this?

    • nkleadershipwatch

      I’ll exercise the KISS rule in listing possible factors behind Gen. Kim Kyok Sik’s dismissal. It could be one or a combination of reasons

      a.) The core leadership needed a useful fall-guy for the last few months of military media activities and rhetoric. This would assuage the concerns of countries friendly to the DPRK (PRC, Russian Federation).

      b.) Gen. Kim Kyok Sik was reposted to IV Army Corps or another first-echelon unit. Last week we received a statement from the KPA Southwestern Command. When Gen. Kim was CO of IV Corps, it was one of the first observed occasions where we heard about a KPA SW Command or West Sea Command.

      c.) Gen. Kim was an interim appointment at the MPAF intended to ease the late 2nd generation/3rd generation Jang Jong Nam into the job. Similarly, Gen. Kim may have been appointed to help KJU deal with any blowback from the dismissal of Ri Yong Ho in July ’12.

      d.) There is a major institutional problem unfolding at the MPAF. While largely a ceremonial organization (to represent the KPA externally) the MPAF does manage the KPA’s foreign currency earning activities, as well as a number of construction and logistics units. Gen. Kim may have been tied to misappropriation of funds or assets.

  3. Wicher

    Hi, what type of personality has this guy?

    One thing that does seem different is the tone on NK newssite, less agressive and much more focussed at reunification. Tone towards US and Japan still accusing, but not as agressive as before. I was really worried that China’s turn, followed by cancellation would ignite disaster, but it seems like NK has set 15th as the day of reunification! Basically asking to uphold spirit of peace the next few days. Is this replacement maybe because of cancellation meeting yesterday? Kim is young, more wordly and flexibel, maybe realised that NK won’t get a happy end and have to go nucleair closing in fast, so fired the guy. Without China NK has nothing. Surrendering their nucleair arsenal no option, absolute demand of USA, so alternative only death. To avoid this with their honour (absolute must) they choose reunification? This new guy seems more dove than previous hawk… Could the 15th mark a historical day?

    Love to hear your idea about my idea.

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