KCNA: Kim Jong Un awarded title of Marshal of DPRK

Top leader Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has been awarded the title of Marshal of the DPRK, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Wednesday.

“A decision was made to award the title of Marshal of the DPRK to Kim Jong Un, supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army,” the KCNA said.

The KCNA added that the decision was jointly issued Tuesday by the Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), the National Defense Commission (NDC) of the DPRK and the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK.

The KCNA flashed a bulletin about an hour before the news was officially released at 0300 GMT.

Kim Jong Un earlier this year was elected first secretary of the WPK, chairman of the WPK Central Military Commission and first chairman of the NDC. He was promoted to the rank of general in September 2010.

In the DPRK, marshal is the second highest title next only to grand marshal, which had been awarded to the country’s founding father, Kim Il Sung, in 1992 and to the late leader Kim Jong Il posthumously in 2012.

The KCNA announced Tuesday a decision of the WPK Central Military Commission and the NDC to promote Gen. Hyon Yong Chol to vice marshal.

Hyon’s promotion came a day after Pyongyang’s announcement to relieve Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho of “all posts due to his illness.” Ri had served as a member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee, vice chairman of the WPK Central Military Commission and chief of general staff of the Korean People’s Army.

On the other side of the Korean Peninsula, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak called a security meeting Wednesday to discuss changes in the DPRK as it reshuffled military leaders.

Lee ordered officials to “keep close tabs on developments” in the DPRK and maintain cooperation with other countries concerned, Lee’s spokesman, Park Jeong-ha, said during a briefing.

Attendees at the 90-minute meeting included the intelligence chief, the foreign minister and the defense minister.

Kim Jong Un, 29, assumed power of the nation after his father Kim Jong Il died of a heart attack last December at the age of 69.

Tensions between the north and the south as well as the United States were eased but later tightened again after the new DPRK leader took power.

Pyongyang and the United States reached an agreement in late February under which the DPRK agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment and nuclear and long-range missile tests, and allow UN inspectors back to the country in return for 240,000 tons of food aid by Washington.

The DPRK’s decision to press ahead with the launch of an “earth observation” satellite on April 13, however, prompted Washington to suspend its planned assistance.

Speculation was rife about a third nuclear test by Pyongyang following the failed satellite launch. However, the DPRK said that it has no plans to conduct a third nuclear test “at present.”

DPRK Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun said in Cambodia last Saturday that his country was ready to rejoin the six-party talks.

The six-party talks, which involve South Korea, the DPRK, China, the United States, Japan and Russia, began in 2003 but stalled in December 2008. The DPRK quit the talks in April 2009 to protest international condemnation of its long-range missile tests.

While meeting with Pak Ui-chun on the sidelines of the ASEAN meetings in Cambodia, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said that easing the situation on the Korean Peninsula serves the interests of all parties.

China will strengthen communications and coordination with all parties and work together to maintain peace and stability on the peninsula and create conditions for the resumption of the six-party nuclear talks, Yang said.

Xinhua