N. Korea army chief removed from all posts

North Korea's army chief has been removed from all his posts due to illness, state media announced Monday, which analysts said showed new leader Kim Jong-Un tightening his control over the powerful military.

Ri Yong-Ho is regarded as one of the key figures who supported the young, untested leader in the transition following the death in December of his father Kim Jong-Il who ruled the reclusive state for 17 years.

The regime's quick announcement on Ri, 69, was "very unusual", prompting Seoul to keep an eye on the North's next move, said Kim Hyung-Suk, spokesman for the South's unification ministry handling cross-border affairs.

Observers say the outgoing vice marshal may have fallen out of favour with Kim Jong-Un.

Ri became head of the North's 1.2 million-strong armed forces -- one of the world's largest -- in 2009 and had often been seen accompanying Kim Jong-Un on visits to military bases this year.

The North's official KCNA news agency said top officials of the Workers' Party of Korea took the decision Sunday to relieve the vice marshal of his posts due to illness.

He was removed from the political bureau presidium, the party's highest body with a handful of members, and his post as a vice-chairman of the central military commission, it said.

The general was one of seven top party and military cadres who accompanied Kim Jong-Un when he walked alongside the hearse carrying the body of his father Kim Jong-Il during his funeral.

The seven -- including Kim Jong-Un's uncle Jang Song-Thaek -- were considered central figures in bolstering the regime of the new leader, who is in his late 20s.

Ri was also seen accompanying Kim Jong-Un when he paid tribute to his late grandfather Kim Il-Sung on the July 8 anniversary of his death in 1994.

Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said he was sceptical about the reason given for the "hawkish" veteran field commander's departure.

"He might have fallen into disfavour with Kim Jong-Un or lost in a power struggle with other military leaders," he said, adding Pyongyang seldom relieved party or military leaders simply for health reasons.

Paik Hak-Soon of the Sejong Institute said Kim Jong-Un might be seeking to strengthen the party's control over the military which had become too powerful under the "Songun" (army-first) policy of his father.

"Jong-Un will make sure that now the party keeps the overgrown military under check -- an effort his father started in late 2010 before he died," he said.

"Ri is an old fixture from the father's generation. Jong-Un will likely replace him with someone younger and closer to the party ... someone he can control more easily," Paik said.

Cheong Seong-Chang, another Sejong researcher, said Ri must have been ousted after protesting at the party's increasing attempt to control the military.

"The latest dismissal shows that even a figure like Ri, who has enjoyed the deep trust of Kim Jong-Un, can be fired overnight," he said, predicting the party's control over the military would grow.

The North's military has in recent months ratcheted up hostile rhetoric towards South Korea and its President Lee Myung-Bak, partly in a bid to burnish Kim Jong-Un's credentials.

Ri, at a massive anti-Seoul rally in Pyongyang in March, called South Korean leaders "mad dogs" and "psychos" and declared a "sacred war" against Seoul for allegedly insulting the North's leadership.

The impoverished but nuclear-armed North last month also denounced US-South Korean drills near the tense border as a provocation and vowed to bolster its "nuclear deterrent".

It was the latest sign of high tensions after the North's failed rocket launch in April, seen by the United States and its allies as an attempted ballistic missile test.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile
    Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile

    Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago believes granting Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile house arrest, while former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains under hospital detention, will violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution. “That’s already a violation of the equal protection of the law,” she said. …

  • 8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study
    8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study

    Eight of 10 world cities most exposed to natural hazards are in the Philippines and more than half of the 100 cities most exposed to earthquakes, storms and other disasters are in four Asian nations, according to a research. The study, published on Wednesday by risk analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft, analyzed the threat posed by storms, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, volcanoes and landslides in more than 1,300 cities. The study found that the 10 cities most at risk are Port Vila in …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. During the assault, Kim screamed a slogan in favour of …

  • UNA hits PNP selection process
    UNA hits PNP selection process

    The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) hit yesterday the apparent machinations in the selection of the new Philippine National Police (PNP) chief. Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA interim president, said the administration and the ruling Liberal Party (LP) are perpetuating the bata-bata or patronage system in the selection process of the police chief. “They will start this by maneuvering the appointment of Gen. Garbo as PNP chief,” said Tiangco, referring to one of the top contenders for PNP …

  • Ohio mom, boyfriend guilty; child emailed teacher for help

    PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — A woman and her boyfriend pleaded guilty to raping her young children and were sentenced to prison on Wednesday, a year after one of her daughters emailed a teacher for help and said she and her siblings were being chained to their beds, deprived of food and sexually assaulted. …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options