Monday, May 13, 2013

N. Korea replaces hawkish armed forces minister

From one of our very best north Korean experts in response to the article below:
I believe it is important to understand that the Minister of People's Armed Forces is the leader of support functions in the KPA and has little impact on operations outside that support.  It has been that way since Stalin's insistence it be that way as a condition of his support to Kim Il-sung prior to the attack on the South in June 1950.  None of the vice-ministers or other offices of the MPAF are operationally oriented.  That is the function of the KPA General Staff Department.  The MPAF is all about logistics, manufacturing, construction, foreign / inter=-military relations, etc. 
The second thing I would observe is that now both the Minister and Chief of the General Staff have fairly so-so backgrounds, the point being that the level of competence of senior KPA commanders is on a distinct downturn.  Couple those two with (no military experience and Vice Marshall then GEN then back to VM) Choi Yong-hae's appointment as Director of General Political Bureau (senior political commissar), and we have a pretty clear track record of lessening the military's influence at the very senior levels. 
KIm Kyok-sik was a pretty tough old dude.  He was 2nd Corps Cdr for ten years during the 1990's and into the next decade.  He knows more about ROK-US CFC than any general in the KPA.  He oversaw the emplacement of the long-range artillery above Seoul.  He re-did the artillery along the Hwanghae Province coast across from the NLL.  Losing this guy's experience would be a huge blow.  If indeed they have canned him - he may still be an adviser. 
I would add that no army benefits from losing experience like that of Kim Kyok-sik.  Imagine getting rid of the Patton's of the army.
My thoughts,

2013/05/13 10:19 KST

N. Korea replaces hawkish armed forces minister
SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea replaced its hard-line armed forces minister with a relatively "young" and unknown field commander, a news report said Monday, in a move that may signal a shift in the country's confrontational policies.

   According to the report by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) monitored in Seoul, Jang Jong-nam, in his 50s, was introduced as minister of the People's Armed Forces during the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Korean People's Internal Security Force that was attended by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju.

   The People's Armed Forces Ministry is equivalent to South Korea's defense ministry and comes under the control of the communist country's powerful National Defense Commission.

The KCNA report marks the first time that Pyongyang has acknowledged a change in the top ministerial post. The same news wire service said four days earlier that Kim Kyok-sik attended another state ceremony as armed forces chief.

   North Korea experts deemed Kim as a hard-liner within the armed forces due to his involvement in the shelling of a South Korean island in the Yellow Sea in November 2010 and the sinking of the South Korean naval vessel eight months earlier when he was in charge of the 4th Corps in Hwanghae Province on the west coast. He held the ministerial post for just eight months and was a four star general in the Korean People's Army (KPA).

   Jang, on the other hand, was promoted to major general in April 2002 and lieutenant general in November of 2011, and until recently was reported to be the commander of the KPA's 1st Corps in Kangwon Province on the east coast. A photo by the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, published earlier in the day showed him as a three-star colonel general.
(Continued at the link below)

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