Date
19 October 2018
North Korea's envoy Kim Yong-chol talks with US President Donald Trump as he departs after a meeting at the White House in Washington on June 1. Photo: Reuters
North Korea's envoy Kim Yong-chol talks with US President Donald Trump as he departs after a meeting at the White House in Washington on June 1. Photo: Reuters

N Korea replaces top 3 military officials: reports

North Korea’s top three military officials have been removed from their posts, reports say, sparking speculation that the action might be related in some way to the planned summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump.

Reuters cited an unidentified US official as saying that a report carried by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency that all three of the North’s top military officials were replaced appears to be credible.

American officials believe there was some dissension in the North’s military about Kim’s approaches to South Korea and the United States.

The Reuters source did not identify the three military officials, but Yonhap named them as defense chief Pak Yong Sik; Ri Myong Su, chief of the Korean People’s Army’s general staff; and Kim Jong Gak, director of the KPA’s General Political Bureau.

Citing an unnamed intelligence official, Yonhap said No Kwang Chol, first vice minister of the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces, had replaced Pak Yong Sik as defense chief, while Ri Myong Su was replaced by his deputy, Ri Yong Gil.

South Korea’s unification and defense ministries declined to confirm the Yonhap report, Reuters said.

All of the newly promoted officials are younger than their predecessors, according to Yonhap, especially Ri Yong Gil, 63, who is 21 years younger than Ri Myong Su.

The replacement of the top military officials comes as US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim prepare to meet on June 12 in Singapore.

Trump on Friday revived the summit after canceling it a week earlier. The US is seeking a negotiated end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

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CG/RC

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