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Report: North Korea replaced military intelligence chief, Supreme Guard commander

Report: North Korea replaced military intelligence chief, Supreme Guard commander
North Korea's Kim Jong Un may have replaced several senior officials in 2019, according to South Korean intelligence. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

May 13 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un may have swapped out his military intelligence chief and Supreme Guard commander in 2019, and his sister Kim Yo Jong may be a year younger than previously estimated, according to Seoul's unification ministry.

The ministry's annual report on high-profile North Korean officials and their activities, published Wednesday, said the most recent data suggest 23 "new" officials have risen to the highest ranks of the regime, Yonhap reported.

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Rim Kwang Il, an army general, replaced Jang Kil Song in December as head of Pyongyang's Reconnaissance General Bureau, Seoul said. The bureau has been linked to the 2010 torpedo assault on the South Korean warship Cheonan that killed 46 sailors.

Kwak Chang Sik, a relatively unknown North Korean official, has assumed the position of Supreme Guard commander. Kwak may have first appeared in public after becoming a member of the central committee of the Korean Workers' Party in December, according to Yonhap.

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North Korea may have also downsized the Workers' Party's Central Military Commission. There are now a total of 12 officials on the commission, down from 13, and seven people have been replaced. Top North Korean officials Choe Ryong Hae, Pak Pong Ju, Kim Yong Chol and Hwang Pyong So remain on the commission, the report says.

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Intelligence on Kim Yo Jong is also included in the report.

According to Seoul, Kim was born in 1988, and not 1987, as some analysts have estimated. She was born in Pyongyang, according to the report.

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Hyon Song Wol, leader of the Moranbong Band, was born in 1977, also in Pyongyang, Seoul said.

A rising star in the North Korean bureaucracy may be Kim Jong Gwan, who was appointed defense chief in December, and has accompanied the North Korean leader to the Wonsan Kalma tourist zone, according to Newsis.

Kim Jong Un is suspected to have executed a previous defense minister, Hyon Yong Chol, in 2015. Hyon has never reappeared in public.

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