Washington: North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-un is believed to have replaced another defense chief, South Korean officials have said.
Reports circulated in Seoul on that Vice Marshal Kim Jong Gak, who just in February was promoted to that highest-level post below the dictator himself, is now out.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a spokeswoman at the South Korea presidential office said the report was “highly possible though not confirmed.”
If true, the change follows the departure in July of North Korea’s previous defense chief, another vice marshal of the Korean People’s Army named Ri Yong Ho.
Both vice marshals Ri and Kim Jong Gak were considered close to the North’s previous leader, Kim Jong-il, who died last December and who is the father of Kim Jong-un, the paper said.
Both were also considered hard-liners who disliked any effort to reach out diplomatically to South Korea and its ally, the United States, it added.
North Korea announced Gen. Ri’s departure, saying that he was giving up his titles for health reasons.
Last week, South Korea’s biggest newspaper, Chosun Ilbo, reported that South Korean intelligence officials believe Gen. Ri is under house arrest in Pyongyang and that Kim Jong-un is struggling to control the North Korean military, the Journal said.