North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Pyon In Son Head of Operations Bureau?

KPA Colonel General (L) attending to Kim Jong Un at the 9 September 2013 WPRG parade and Col. Gen. Pyon In Son (R) (Photos:  KCTV screengrab, KCNA).

KPA Colonel General (L) attending to Kim Jong Un at the 9 September 2013 WPRG parade and Col. Gen. Pyon In Son (R) (Photos: KCTV screengrab, KCNA).

Has Col. Gen. Pyon In Son been appointed director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA]  General Staff Operations Bureau [GSOB] ?

Film footage of the military parade and demonstration on the 65th anniversary of the country’s foundation on 9 September 2013 shows a KPA officer who resembles Col. Gen. Pyon briefing Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) during the Worker-Peasant Red Guards’ parade.  Since the Kim Jong Il era, one of the Operations Bureau director’s ceremonial functions is to brief the KPA Supreme Commander during a military or reserve unit parade, or military exercise.  If Col. Gen. Pyon was briefing Kim Jong Un during the WPRG parade then he has replaced previous GSOB director Ri Yong Gil.  Ri was recently promoted to four-star general and appointed Chief of the KPA General Staff, replacing Gen. Kim Kyok Sik.

KPA Colonel General (top) attending to Kim Jong Un at the 9 September 2013 WPRG parade and Col. Gen. Pyon In Son (bottom) (Photos:  KCTV screengrab, Xinhua, KCNA-Yonhap).

KPA Colonel General (top) attending to Kim Jong Un at the 9 September 2013 WPRG parade and Col. Gen. Pyon In Son (bottom) (Photos: KCTV screengrab, Xinhua, KCNA-Yonhap).

Directors of the General Staff Operations Bureau at previous military parades. 1. General Kim Myong Guk in Octoner 2010; 2. Gen Choe Pu il In April 2012; 3. Gen. Ri Yong Gil in July 2013 (Photos: CCTV, KCTV screengrabs).

Directors of the General Staff Operations Bureau at previous military parades. 1. General Kim Myong Guk in Octoner 2010; 2. Gen Choe Pu il In April 2012; 3. Gen. Ri Yong Gil in July 2013 (Photos: CCTV, KCTV screengrabs).

The KPA General Staff (Photo: NK Leadership Watch).

The KPA General Staff (Photo: NK Leadership Watch).

The directorate of the  GSOB is one of the most powerful positions in the DPRK’s national security community.  The GSOB is responsible for the daily operational management and administration of the KPA’s conventional forces.  It interfaces with all KPA corps-level units to implement DPRK military planning, strategy and operations plans, as well as assessing combat readiness.  It also formulates and implements military training for all KPA conventional units, the Pyongyang Defense Command and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces.  During a war or national crisis, command and control over KPA forces passes from the core leadership directly to the Operations Bureau.

Pyon In Son’s last reported position, as of July 2013, was  Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces,.  From August 2011 until April 2013, Col. Gen. Pyon served as commanding officer of the IV Army Corps.  From about 2007 to 2011 he served as Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces.  He led a KPA delegation on an official visit to China in October 2010.  Prior to his appointment at the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, Pyon was commanding officer of the VII Army Corps in South Hamgyo’ng Province.  Col. Gen. Pyon has patronage links to VMar Kim Yong Chun, Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission and current Director of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Civil Defense Department.

If Pyon has been appointed director of the GSOB then it indicates that Kim Jong Un applies a similar criteria in selecting the GSOB chief as his father, having selected someone with a career both in military administration (such as at MPAF or the General Staff) and field command experience and holding the rank of Colonel General.  Being former commander of the IV Army Corps, Pyon’s possible appointment to the GSOB would also mean another new member of the KPA’s high command whose immediate past field experience was at one of the four frontline (1st echelon) corps units.  These are the KPA ground force units stationed in areas along the inter-Korean border, the Military Demarcation Line and the North Limit Line.   Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Jang Jong Nam (appointed in May 2013) commanded the I Army Corps and Ri Yong Gil (appointed Chief of the General Staff in August 2013 and GSOB director in February 2012) commanded the V Army Corps.

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One comment on “Pyon In Son Head of Operations Bureau?

  1. Pingback: The absence of Ri Yong Gil and the rise of Pyon In Son | NK News - North Korea News

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This entry was posted on 09/16/2013 by in Administration Department, armored division, Artillery Corps, Central Committee, Central Military Committee, Civil Defense Department, colonel general, contingencies in DPRK, corps command, corps commanders, crisis scenarios, critical infrastructure, DPRK Civil Defense Forces, Gen. Choe Pu Il, Gen. Jang Jong Nam, Gen. Kim Kyok Sik, Gen. Kim Myo'ng-kuk, Gen. Pyon In Son, Gen. Ri Myong Su, Gen. Ri Yong Gil, General Affairs, gsd, gsob, Guard Command, III Army Corps, internal security, Kim Family, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un, KJI Personal Secretariat, Korean People's Army (KPA), Korean People's Air Force, Korean People's Army Air Force, Korean People's Army Supreme Command, Korean People's Internal Security Forces, Korean Workers' Party (KWP), KPA construction battalions, KPA construction brigades, KPA East Command Zone, KPA General Logistics Department, KPA General Staff, KPA I Army Corps, KPA II Army Corps, KPA infantry corps, kpa IV army corps, KPA Large Combined Units, KPA multiple-launch rocket systems, KPA Strategic Rocket Force Command, KPA Supreme Command, KPA V Army Corps, KPA West Sea Command, kpaf, kpif, military security command [msc], Minister of People's Security/KPISF construction units, ministry of people's security, Ministry of People's Security engineering units, Ministry of the People's Armed Forces (MPAF), National Defense Commission (NDC), Navy Command, NDC Administration Department, O Kuk Ryol, O Kuk-yol, Operations Bureau Department 10, Organization and Guidance Department, Provincial Party Committees, Provinicial People's Committee, Pyongyang Defense Command, Reconnaissance Bureau, reserve training units, Secretariat, tunnel construction, VIII Army Corps, VMar Kim Yong Chun, wo'nsan corps, worker peasant red guard, Working Organizations.

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