Bloomberg News

North Korea Replaces Defense Minister, Munhwa Ilbo Reports

November 29, 2012

North Korea replaced Kim Jong Gak as defense minister as the nation’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, promotes commanders who show him strong allegiance, South Korea’s Munhwa Ilbo newspaper reported, citing a government official in Seoul it didn’t identify.

Kim Kyok Sik, who is believed to have orchestrated the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island and the sinking of a South Korean naval ship in 2010, has been promoted to minister, the Korean- language newspaper said.

Kim Jong Un became head of the totalitarian state in December last year, following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, who ruled the secretive nation from 1994 to 2011.

He took the country’s top rank of marshal in July, as he sought to bolster his power as leader of the impoverished nation’s 1.2 million-strong armed forces. The promotion came days after Kim sacked veteran army chief Ri Yong Ho, in the biggest publicly revealed power shift since his succession.

The continuing shakeup in the military may indicate that Kim Jong Un’s regime remains unstable, Munhwa reported.

North Korea, which in April defied international sanctions with an attempt to fire a long-range rocket that failed minutes after liftoff, may be preparing for another test. Activity at its Sohae Satellite Launching Station is consistent with preparations before the previous launch, satellite company DigitalGlobe Inc. said, citing analysis of a Nov. 23 image of the area.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shinhye Kang in Seoul at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brett Miller at

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