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North Korea Appoints Hyon Yong-chol As New Vice Marshal Updated: 2012-07-17 12:00:00 KST

North Korea Appoints Hyon Yong-chol As New Vice Marshal
Pyeongyang's official Korea Central News Agency announced Tuesday that army general Hyon Yong-chol has been promoted to the position of vice marshal of the Korean People's Army.
But there has been no official statement on whether Hyon is replacing the recently purged military chief, Ri Yong-ho.
Hyon is still a man of mystery to South Korean experts.
After being promoted to lieutenant general in 2002, he was later promoted to general in 2010 but his age and hometown are still unknown.
According to a high-ranking government official, Hyon is known to be in charge of defending the northern border between North Korea and China.
Some analysts say that promoting the lesser-known Hyon could be a signal that Kim Jong-un is trying to replace his military leadership with his close aides.

[Interview : Seo Yu-seok, Research Fellow
Institute of North Korean Studies] "In order to gurantee absolute loyalty, there have been many cases where one would select people with lesser power that they can trust in order to prolong their political careers."

Meanwhile, the foreign media continued to speculate about the meaning of the staffing changes.
Citing North Korea experts, BBC News reported that Ri's removal could be seen as a sign of a power imbalance among the country's high ranking officials.
The Washington Post described it as "the latest in what analysts describe as a series of increasingly bold shake-ups to strengthen support for young leader Kim Jong-eun."
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that Washington will not attempt to evaluate the impact of Ri's departure on the regime.
Kim Han-ul, Arirang News.
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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