UK

North Korea's Kim Jong Un Rids Cabinet Of Hardline Chief Of Defence Kim Kyok Sik

13/05/2013 10:52 BST

Kim Jong Un has sacked his hardline chief of defence, replacing him with an unknown army general, another purge in the young North Korean leader's inner circle as he makes firm his intent to stamp his own mark on government.

The continued cabinet job-swapping, and the removal of hardliners is unlikely to mean a softening of Kim's attitude to diplomacy, but more an intention to install his own allies around him and cement his control of government since succeeding his father.

Jang Jong Nam, about whom very little is known, replaces Kim Kyok Sik, Minister of the People's Armed Forces. Kim Kyok Sik is the former commander of battalions believed to have been responsible for the shelling of a South Korean island in 2010, where four people were killed. Jang Jong Nam is, however, unlikely to be a moderate, South Korean analysts told The Guardian.

kim kyok sik

Kim Kyok Sik stands with then-North Korean leader Kim Jong Il - he has now been removed from government by Kim Jong Un

News of his dismissal, and Jang's appointment was buried in a state media reported about who attended an art show with the North Korea leader.

He is not the first old hand that Kim has summarily removed from his inner circle. Influential army commander Ri Yong Ho has disappeared from the cabinet, due to an "illness", again replaced with a complete unknown.

One of the most notable changes from Kim Jong-un was the replacement of the powerful military chief Ri Yong Ho, who was dismissed because of what Pyongyang called an unspecified illness.

South Korean media reported that Ri may have been killed in a gun battle, refusing to accept his dismissal.

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