Pyongyang (Daily Pakistan Online) Pak Jong-chon, the second most powerful military official after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was dismissed. According to North Korean state media, Ri Yong-gil replaced Park Jong-chun, vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission and secretary of the party’s Central Committee, at the committee’s annual meeting last week. Pak’s successor, Ray, is a senior military commander who has held key positions including Chief of Army Staff and Defense Minister.
According to the Reuters news agency, no reason was given for this most important change. Pyongyang regularly revamps its leadership and year-end party gatherings are often used to announce personnel changes and major policy decisions.
State television showed Park Jong sitting in the front row of the podium during the meeting with his head bowed while other members raised their hands to vote on personnel issues. Later his seat was shown vacant. The party’s Central Military Commission, headed by Kum, is considered the country’s most powerful military decision-making body above the Defense Ministry.
Park Jong’s replacement comes as Kim pushes for new intercontinental ballistic missiles and a larger nuclear arsenal to counter the US and South Korea, key to the isolated country’s 2023 defense strategy. Pak had risen rapidly from a one-star artillery commander in 2015 to a four-star general in 2020. In late 2020, Pak was promoted to the Politburo and given the rank of marshal, the highest military rank under Kim.