Report: Kim Jong Un Has Purged Military Leadership

Top 3 military chiefs fired ahead of summit
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2018 5:40 AM CDT
In this 2007 photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, center, inspects a sub-unit of North Korean People's Army Unit 479 in an undisclosed place, North Korea . North Korean People's Army Generals, seen...   (AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service)
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(Newser) – In preparation for the Singapore summit, Kim Jong Un has reportedly shaken up North Korea's military leadership—though it's not clear whether it's the kind of reshuffle that involves executions or mere demotions. According to South Korea's Yonhap news agency, all three of North Korea's top military leaders have been replaced, the Guardian reports. A senior US official confirmed to Reuters that the three leaders had been ousted. Yonhap named the military leaders as defense chief Pak Yong Sik, Korean People's Army chief of staff Ri Myong Su, and Kim Jong Gak, head of the KPA's General Political Bureau.

All three men, including 84-year-old Ri Myong Su, were replaced by younger deputies. Analysts believe Kim is sidelining powerful figures from father Kim Jong Il's generation ahead of the summit. Their replacements "are guys that are Kim Jong Un guys—Kim Jong Un loyalists and people who he trusts," Michael Madden of the North Korea Leadership Watch website tells the Washington Post. Madden believes Kim made the changes because he wants to have the new military leaders in charge of the country while he is away—and to help oversee changes including possible denuclearization. "So if there are policies he needs to implement, these are people who are not going to be resistant to that and they will make sure his policies are implemented in a timely fashion," Madden says. (Syria's Bashar al-Assad is also interested in meeting Kim.)

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