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

Conflicts Engulf Christians in the Middle East

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Surveillance of Phones, Internet

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? 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.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
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 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. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid