North Korea leader stages displays for loyalty
Elderly North Korean veterans pledged loyalty to their leader in Pyongyang during Korean War armistice commemorations yesterday that were being closely watched after Kim Jong Un reshuffled the military and revealed that he is married.
Over the last two weeks, Kim has taken on the title of marshal and replaced his army chief –once a key mentor. Both moves were seen as an effort to build loyalty among the million-man armed forces and solidify his credentials as commander.
North Korea also revealed on Wednesday that the woman at Kim’s side in some public appearances this month is his wife.
Kim Jong Un and his wife were absent from yesterday’s event. Hundreds of aging veterans were shown on state television in a huge auditorium as Choe Ryong Hae, the military’s top political officer, stood beneath giant portraits of Kim Jong Il and North Korea founder Kim Il Sung and urged the crowd to “follow the leadership of Marshal Kim Jong Un and win 100 out of 100 battles.”
The commemorations are meant to kindle patriotism and loyalty in North Koreans, and especially the young, by showcasing veterans who fought for their country, said Kim Yeon-su of Korea National Defense University in Seoul.
Separately, North Korea is filling vacancies left by the sudden dismissal of former army chief Ri Yong Ho.
Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency introduced the new military chief, Hyon Yong Chol, as Ri’s successor as a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party in a dispatch yesterday. Hyon was promoted to vice marshal and chief of general staff after Ri was dismissed earlier this month. Kim Jong Un chairs the commission.
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