News / Asia

North Korea's Young Leader Gets New Title

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (File)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (File)
SEOUL — The young man who took the helm of North Korea following his father's death last December has been formally declared the country's top military leader.

North Koreans had been alerted an hour in advance to tune in at noon for important news. The previous time there had been such an announcement was on December 19 last year to announce the death of leader Kim Jong Il.

Kim Jong Un's Rise to Power

September 2010: Promoted to four-star general by his father, Kim Jong Il

December 2011: Kim Jong Il dies of a heart attack, leaving power to relatively inexperienced Kim Jong Un

February 2012: North Korea makes nuclear concessions in exchange for badly needed food aid from U.S.

April 2012: North Korea tries unsucessfully to launch rocket, leading U.S. to cancel food aid deal

May 2012: Pyongyang vows to continue developing its nuclear program, amid concerns it could conduct a third nuclear test

July 2012: Army chief Ri Yong Ho unexpectedly removed from his post because of undisclosed "illness," replaced by obscure general

July 2012: Formally declared head of North Korea's 1.2 million-strong military, effectively completing his succession to power
So anticipation was high, not only in North Korea, when the announcer opened the noon newscast.

The announcer said “a decision was made to award the title of Marshal of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to Kim Jong Un, the supreme commander of the Korean People's Army."

The 45-second announcement was followed by state radio playing the song “We will defend General Kim Jong Un at the Risk of Our Lives.”

Kim is believed to be 29 years of age.

The promotion for Kim, previously named a four-star general and who already holds almost all top military and party positions, comes just days after army chief Ri Yong Ho was removed from all of his posts supposedly due to “illness.”

An obscure general, Hyun Yong Chol, was named Tuesday to replace Ri as vice marshal.

Kim came to power seven months ago following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, who was the son of North Korea's late founder Kim Il Sung.

Kim Jong Il, who was also a marshal, was promoted in February, two months after his death, to generalissimo.

The changes are seen by analysts as an attempt to cement the hold on power by the third generation of the Kim family. But some analysts say the events of the last several days indicate conflict between the ruling family and the military - or even within the military, which has more than one million active personnel, making it the world's fourth largest army.

Baek Seung-joo is a senior researcher at the South Korean government-funded Korea Institute of Defense Analyses.

Baek says he thinks Kim was given the new title to solve issues from internal conflicts in the military and quell complaints or questions about whether he is really able to control the army. Baek adds it is timed to show North Koreans their young leader has absolute power and to demonstrate his status to the outside world.

Rival South Korea has not officially reacted to Kim's military promotion.

The publicly-funded Yonhap news agency, quotes unnamed South Korean officials as saying the decision appears to be an internal matter and no unusual moves by North Korea's army have been detected following the announcement.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Lost from: don't know
July 18, 2012 1:52 PM
"Decision was made to award" the new leader the title "Marshal." I must be sleeping for the last one hundred years, but the title is reserved to people with great achievement. Military titles are attained with bravery not awarded for appearance or bloodline.


by: Cả Thộn from: Hà Nội
July 18, 2012 12:13 PM
New man, young man, fresh new ideas may change N.Korea from bad to good. I keep my fringers cross for N.Korea.


by: zzj from: China
July 18, 2012 5:43 AM
Why Kim family can control the North Korea for so many years?I think if the young leader cannot work with the old who help his father settle the issue all the time successfully,it will be very dangerous for the system which the Kim family use to control people.In my opinion,the North Korea cannot advanced rapidly as long as the true democratic system exists.

In Response

by: Anonymous
July 18, 2012 7:10 PM
Deng Xao Ping changed China rapidly.
Deng could do it, young Kim can do it too.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid