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North Korea's military shuffle means winners and losers

A purge may have occurred after the execution of former Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol, according to South Korea press.

By Elizabeth Shim
A North Korean woman and child visit the Mansudae Grand Monument on July 8, the 21st anniversary of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung's death. Photo by Yonhap
A North Korean woman and child visit the Mansudae Grand Monument on July 8, the 21st anniversary of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung's death. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, July 8 (UPI) -- North Korea's military has been reorganizing its top brass, and Kim Jong Un's latest visit to Pyongyang's Kumsusan Palace of the Sun indicated changes have taken place in the bureaucracy.

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported during a memorial service on Wednesday, Kim performed a roll call of North Korean military officials.

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The absence of Kim Chun Sam, who was appointed director of operations for North Korea's military in November, had analysts speculating about another purge related to the execution of former Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol, South Korea press reported.

Kim Chun Sam was profiled for the first time in January when he attended an airborne assault weapons inspection.

The military official was last seen publicly at the 103rd birthday celebration of the late Kim Il Sung on April 15.

The order in which the names were called reflected the rank of the officials, according to South Korean television network SBS.

At the top of list was Hwang Pyong So, Kim Jong Un's top military aide, followed by Pak Yong Sik, who was promoted from a three-star to a four-star general in April. Pak's placement in the roll call indicates he is the North Korea defense chief, according to Yonhap.

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Gen. No Kwang Chol, the former deputy chief of North Korea's military, was also promoted to operations chief, South Korea press reported.

No's profile has become more public since he accompanied Choe Ryong Hae, a top Kim aide, to Russia last November.

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