Skip to comments.N. Korea: DPRK awards Hyon Yong Chol title of KPA vice marshal(replacement for the purged general?)
Posted on 07/16/2012 8:47:52 PM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
DPRK awards Hyon Yong Chol title of KPA vice marshal
English.news.cn 2012-07-17 05:38:18
PYONGYANG, July 17 (Xinhua) -- Hyon Yong Chol was awarded the title of vice marshal of the Korean People's Army (KPA), reported KCNA, the official news agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), early Tuesday.
According to the report, the decision to award the title was made by the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and the National Defense Commission of the DPRK on Monday. Hyon was a general of the KPA before the promotion.
On Monday, Pyongyang announced that KPA Vice Marshal and Chief of General Staff Ri Yong-ho had been "relieved of all posts due to his illness" at a Sunday meeting of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee.
Before the announcement, Ri was also a member of the WPK Central Committee's Political Bureau and its Presidium, as well as vice chairman of the WPK's Central Military Commission.
China, on the other hand, is said to have been rebuffing advances from current NK regime. NK needs solid commitment by China to prop it up while the regime is still in flux. I think China makes NK think that it is positioning itself between maintaing status quo and outright takeover. On the surface, there is continued sign of support. China is cooperating with NK in catching and repatriating N. Korean refugees in China. Still, there are other movements as well. Renewed military exercises of river-crossing at Yalu river, and complete freeze of visits by high-level Chinese officials. Kim Jong-eun wants to visit China this year, but words coming out of China is that China is giving lukewarm response.
This is a specultation, but I think China conveyed to NK that NK should show visible commitment of change. The removal of Ri could serve such a purpose. All of this do not come from suddenly enlightenment by China's leadership. China has been always keen to maintain geopolitical status quo in E. Asia. NK has been destabilizing it for years, but China has not been compeled to take the risk of coming down hard on N. Korea, because S. Korea, U.S., and Japan all put up with N. Korea's antics. So the destabilization has not really materialized until recently. However, after the shelling of Yon-pyong Island, the situation changed. In S. Korea, the talk of appeasement and unilateral restraint in the name of Sunshine Policy no longer holds the sway. People are overwhelmingly in favor of tough response to NK, while political establishment still shows vestige of the past policy because there are people whose career was built on appeasement policy.
Lately, the talk of nuclear armament and ballistic missile program gains momentum and public support. From conservative side. If NK keeps at its current policy, China will face S. Korean ballistic missiles which can hit all major cities in eastern coast and N. E. China, as well as nukes down the road. The former is a real and immediate possibility. There is a talk that the current SK's ballistic missiles are 'over-built.' That is, its range is short enough to meet the agreement between SK and U.S., but its engine and other parts are designed enough for longer-range flight. It can be easily modified to a longer range missile, in short.
Japan is showing the similar step. Since this January, Japan has been working to nullify 'peaceful use' of nuclear power. It has been finally completed a couple of weeks ago. Japan already has well-establish space program. Making an ICBM is not a problem. There has been no political commitment and public support to push such a program but now there are. Well, at least there is no resistence for such a change.
This is all great concern for Chinese. Potential threats are now being materialized. It is also noted that changes in S. Korea and Japan will feed each other and escalate, because of deep seated distrust between two countries. So China has to do some 'risky' things to maintain status quo. Finally, the cost of letting NK run wild outweighs the cost of pushing it around.
So China let its view known and Jang Sung-taek took the step, I surmise. Jang is said to have showed grave concerns for collapsing NK economy when he came to visit Seoul over a decade ago. He would be the right person to carry out the removal of those who became liabilities for NK regime. I am not sure if NK military will go down quietly though. They enjoyed enormous privilege under Kim Jong-il's 'Military-first Policy.' Now it can all go away. It is not just the political clout. Military controled lucrative hard-cash earning business in N. Korea. For example, they had exclusive right to mine natural resources and sell them overseas, mostly China. There are many other monetary perks coming with political clout. They will all go away, and military could have nothing but cold and hugry future. From top brasses' point of view. Rank-and-file soldiers have been cold and hungry for years, unless they are into illegal smuggling and outright banditry.
Retirement? What happened to mortar practice?
Mortar shell shortage?