Kim Jong Un Promoted to Army's Top Rank

Cements his role atop North Korea's power structure
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2012 7:11 AM CDT
Kim Jong Un Promoted to Army's Top Rank
Kim Jong Un applauds with military personnel as he inspects Seoul Ryu Kyong Su 105 Guards Tank Division of the Korean People's Army, in this Jan. 1, 2012 file photo.   (AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service, File)

Kim Jong Un removed any doubt that he's No. 1 in North Korea today, by ascending to the rank of marshal of the army—right after ousting Vice Marshal Ri Yong-ho, who had been the country's top military official and closely allied with Kim's father. Kim now rules atop the army, the Worker's Party of Korea, and the National Defense Commission, Reuters reports, cementing his power and role as Kim Jong Il's replacement.

"The personality cult surrounding [the] Kim family has been really shifted to Kim Jong Un," says an official with the International Crisis Group. Ri was replaced as vice marshal by a relatively obscure officer named Hyon Yong-chol. Experts believe Ri's purge was intended to shift the power structure around Kim, and don't believe it heralds policy changes. But Kim's rule has already proven at least superficially distinct from his father's: He's adopted a more jovial demeanor, and actually addressed the public, something his dad never did. (More Kim Jong Un stories.)

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