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North Korea promotes unknown general to oversee missile development

Top North Korean officials, including Choe Ryong Hae (C), celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Korean Workers’ Party at a banquet on Sunday. Photo by KCNA
Top North Korean officials, including Choe Ryong Hae (C), celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Korean Workers’ Party at a banquet on Sunday. Photo by KCNA

Oct. 14 (UPI) -- North Korea has promoted a general to lead the regime's Strategic Force, a division of the military in charge of missile development and deployment.

Kim Jong Gil, a military general with a three-star rank, was mentioned on Pyongyang's Korea Central Television on Wednesday. KCTV said the relatively unknown official is the commander of the Korean People's Army Strategic Force, South Korean news service News 1 and JoongAng Daily reported.

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Kim was seen marching with troops and saluting leader Kim Jong Un during the predawn military parade on Saturday, when North Korea celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Korean Workers' Party. The statement from KCTV is the first confirmation North Korea has replaced Strategic Force chief Kim Rak Gyom.

Kim Jong Gil may have been promoted in May during the expanded meeting of the Workers' Party's Central Military Commission, according to News 1. Following the May meeting his name was mentioned publicly for the first time in the pages of the Rodong Sinmun, the report says.

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North Korea's Strategic Force began to gain the attention of South Korean authorities in 2014. The military command is in charge of Pyongyang's missile strategy, according to South Korean press reports.

On Saturday, North Korea showcased an enormous intercontinental ballistic missile in defiance of international sanctions and promises once made to the United States.

Former White House national security adviser John Bolton told CNBC the weapons signal diplomatic failure.

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"Rogue states need time to perfect their nuclear capabilities, their ballistic missile capabilities. That's what Kim Jong Un was doing," Bolton said. "I do think it's more dangerous now because of the progress that North Korea has made."

North Korea's military advancements are raising concerns even as the regime recovers from floods.

Pyongyang propaganda service DPRK Today said Wednesday 60% of work is complete on new residential construction in South Hamgyong Province.

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North Korea has called on its population to mobilize for an "80-day campaign" of recovery ahead of its Eighth Party Congress in January.

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