Ahead of summit with Trump, Kim Jong-Un replaces top 3 military officials

by WorldTribune Staff, June 4, 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un reportedly fired his top three military generals in late May.

From left, Kim Su-Gil, No Kwang-Chol and Ri Yong-Gil. / KNS / Kyodo

Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump are scheduled to meet in Singapore on June 12.

State media revealed that Kim Su-Gil, said to be a “highly trusted” lieutenant of Kim Jong-Un, has replaced Kim Jong-Gak as the director of the North Korean military’s powerful General Political Bureau (GPB).

The chief of general staff, Ri Myong-Su, has been replaced by his deputy Ri Yong-Gil, according to Yonhap, which cited intelligence sources.

Related: Report: N. Korea plans Pyongyang-type controls for mountainous province, May 29, 2018

Defense Minister Pak Yong-Sik has been succeeded by former first vice minster No Kwang-Chol, the sources said.

Observers said the move by Kim was aimed at keeping a tight rein on the Korean People’s Army (KPA) amid efforts to jump-start economic development and engage with the world.

Ken Gause, director of the International Affairs Group at CNA, said: “If Kim Jong-Un is set on making peace with the U.S. and South Korea and dealing away at least part of the nuclear program, he will have to put the KPA’s influence in a box and keep it there.”

Gause added, “This reshuffle has brought to the fore the officers who can do just that. They are loyal to Kim Jong-Un and no one else.”

Meanwhile, Kim Jong-Un could meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian city of Vladivostok in September, the RIA news agency reported, citing diplomatic sources.

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