SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has replaced the hardline general who headed its armed forces ministry, in a further reshuffling of the top brass by young leader Kim Jong-un.
General Jang Jong-nam was named “minister of the People’s Armed Forces” by state news agency KCNA in a report, the third official to take the role since Kim Jong-un formally assumed power in North Korea just over a year ago.
Jang, a relatively unknown general, was previously commander of the First Corps of the Korean People’s Army.
The report would appear to show that armed forces ministry chief Kim Kyok-sik, reputed to have been behind the 2010 shelling of a South Korean island that killed four people, had been replaced.
Kim Kyok-sik himself was only named armed forces minister last November in a move North Korea watchers believed was part of an effort to solidify the grip of North Korea’s young leader over the army.
The post of minister of the armed forces is considered subordinate to the Army Chief of General Staff and its head of the Political Department.
Jang is one of a group of younger soldiers who are stepping up to replace men who grew up under the country’s founder Kim Il-sung, South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo reported.
It is not known how old Jang is.
Frequent reshuffles of top army figures have triggered speculation the 30-year old Kim Jong-un, the third of his family to rule North Korea, may be seeking to reassert the power of the Workers’ Party of Korea over the country’s generals.
Reporting by David Chance. Editing by Dean Yates