SEOUL: North Korea has replaced its hawkish armed forces minister after just six months on the job— the latest in a long line of top military reshuffles by supreme leader Kim Jong-Un.
The new minister was identified by the Korean Central News Agency on Sunday as Jang Jong-Nam, a relatively young and little-known field commander believed to be in his mid-50s.
He replaces Kim Kyok-Sik, whose appointment in November 2012 was seen as a hard line choice given that he was widely believed to have directed—as commander of the 4th Army Corps—the 2010 shelling of a South Korean border island.
The People’s Armed Forces Ministry is essentially the defence ministry and comes under the control of the powerful National Defence Commission.
Kim Jong-Un has substantially reshuffled his military top brass in an apparent attempt to secure his leadership since taking over the reins of power from his late father in December 2011.
Kim Kyok-Sik’s replacement comes as the Korean peninsula is emerging from a period of highly elevated military tensions that followed the North’s nuclear test in February.