North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Gen. Kim Kyok Sik Lands at KPA General Staff

Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (annotated in a yellow box) was part of a group that saw off VMar Choe Ryong Hae (1) and a senior DPRK delegation on a trip to China at Pyongyang Airport on 22 May 2013.  Also seen in attendance is PRC Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai (2) (Photo: KCNA)

Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (annotated in a yellow box) was part of a group that saw off VMar Choe Ryong Hae (1) and a senior DPRK delegation on a trip to China at Pyongyang Airport on 22 May 2013. Also seen in attendance is PRC Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai (2) (Photo: KCNA)

Two weeks after being removed from office as the DPRK’s defense minister, Gen. Kim Kyok Sik has been appointed Chief of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Staff.  Gen. Kim had been appointed Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, the country’s equivalent to defense minister, in November 2012 and held that position until early May 2013.  On 13 May, DPRK state media identified Gen. Jang Jong Nam  as Minister of the PAF.  Gen. Kim’s removal from office, after only seven months in the position, caused a feverish amount of speculation among Pyongyang watchers some of whom interpreted his removal from office as a “purge.”  Gen. Kim replaces Gen. Hyon Yong Chol, who was appointed Chief of the KPA General Staff in July 2013 after the removal of VMar Ri Yong Ho.  There is no word as to whether Gen. Hyon was dismissed with prejudice or if he had been assigned another position in the KPA.  One of Gen. Hyon’s last observed appearances was in late April 2013 when he attended Kim Jong Un’s (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visit to the Haedanghwa Health Complex in Pyongyang.

Gen. Kim Kyok Sik was identified as the new head of the KPA General Staff in a Korean Central Television report about VMar Choe Ryong Hae’s 22 May (Wednesday) departure from Pyongyang Airport to visit China as the “special envoy of Kim Jong Un.”  Gen. Kim previous served as Chief of the KPA General Staff from 2007 to 2009.  He is the second DPRK elite to be appointed to a senior position that he previously held; the other member of the central leadership to be reappointed to his old job was Pak Pong Ju, who was appointed DPRK Cabinet Premier on 1 April 2013, having served as DPRK Premier from 2003-2007.  2007 was the same year that Kim Jong Un became a viable candidate as the late leader Kim Jong Il’s hereditary successor.

Kim Kyok Sik’s replacing Hyon Yong Chol marks the third senior KPA personnel turnover in two weeks (with Jang Jong Nam replacing Kim at MPAF, and Col. Gen. Jon Chang Bok replacing VMar Hyon Chol Hae as 1st Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), and the eighth observed personnel change to the KPA’s high command since Kim Jong Un formally assumed the supreme leadership in January 2012.  Pyongyang watchers might be forgiven if they find themselves reaching for the Dramamine with the latest change at the top of the KPA.  Finding an easy rationale behind these personnel changes would be, to paraphrase one of our most astute Kumsusanologists, “shallow and misleading.”

Graphic illustrating personnel changes in the senior command of the Korean People's Army [KPA] from 2007 to 2013 (Photo: M. Madden/NK Leadership Watch)

Graphic illustrating personnel changes in the senior command of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] from 2007 to 2013 (Photo: M. Madden/NK Leadership Watch)

One comment on “Gen. Kim Kyok Sik Lands at KPA General Staff

  1. Pingback: Choe, Ryong-Hae in China | N.E.A.T. (동북아경)

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This entry was posted on 05/23/2013 by in 12 February 2013 Nuclear Test, 2007-2010 kpa management, 2013 KPA Promotions, 2013 Strategic Rhetoric, 2013 tactical rhetoric, 27 July 2013 (Victory Day/Armistice), Administration Department, Cadre Affairs, Central Committee, Central Military Committee, Choe Ryong Hae, colonel general, corps command, corps commanders, DPRK Cabinet, DPRK Intelligence Community, DPRK Premier, Gen. Choe Pu Il, Gen. Hyon Yong Chol, Gen. Jang Jong Nam, Gen. Kim Kyok Sik, Gen. Kim Myo'ng-kuk, Gen. Ri Myong Su, Gen. Ri Yong Gil, General Affairs, gsd, gsob, Guard Command, Kim Chong-un inspections, Kim Family, Kim Jong Un Visits, Kim Jong-un, Kim Kyong Ok (OGD), KJI Personal Secretariat, Korean People's Army (KPA), Korean People's Army Supreme Command, Korean Workers' Party (KWP), KPA General Political Bureau, KPA General Political Department, KPA General Staff, KPA Large Combined Units, KPA supernumerary organizations, Mangyo'ngdae Revolutionary School Alumni, March 2013 KWP Central Committee Meeting (plenary session), May 2013 Choe Ryong Hae Beijing Visit, military security command [msc], Ministry of the People's Armed Forces (MPAF), MPAF GPB, National Defense Commission (NDC), NDC Administration Department, North Korean press, Organization and Guidance Department, Pak Pong Ju, party cells, Party elders, party life, Political Bureau, Ri Yong Ho (GSD), Secretariat, State Security Department, Third Floor, VMar Hyon Chol Hae, VMar Kim Jong Gak, VMar Kim Yong Chun.

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