North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has removed three top military officials as his summit with President Donald Trump draws near. After months of exchanging bellicose and belittling rhetoric, the two leaders are scheduled to meet in Singapore on June 12.
The initial news that the three military officials had been removed was published by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, per Newsmax.
One analyst said the move is a pre-emptive political strike to ensure that the Korean People’s Army will not resist any agreements Kim and Trump might reach.
“If Kim Jong Un is set on making peace with the U.S. and South Korea and dealing away at least part of the nuclear program, he will have to put the KPA’s influence in a box and keep it there,” said Ken Gause, director of the International Affairs Group at CNA, a research and analysis organization, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“This reshuffle has brought to the fore the officers who can do just that. They are loyal to Kim Jong Un and no one else,” he said.
The move replaces older officials with younger ones, and was labeled by some as a generational change.
“All these (promoted) guys are top Kim Jong Un guys,” blogger Michael Madden, who writes on North Korea, told CNN.
“All three of them have held very sensitive and high level positions under Kim Jong Un, they’re very loyal (to him), and all have experience interacting with foreign delegations,” he said.
Changing leaders means that Kim expects North Korea to make changes following the summit, one expert said.
“This points to two things — the consolidation of Kim Jong Un’s power as the sole leader of North Korea and strengthened cooperation between the North’s party and military as the country works towards further economic development,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. “They’re all young but capable people.”
“It’s a good choice of support for his diplomacy efforts. It’s good to have these people in high office to provide him follow-through,” Madden said, according to The Washington Post. “So if there are policies he needs to implement, these are people who are not going to be resistant to that and they will make sure his policies are implemented in a timely fashion.”
— Reuters (@Reuters) June 4, 2018
Kim Yong Hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, told The Post that although the ousted leaders were men who knew about combat, the new leaders know how the military can play a role in organizing the economy.
That could mean Kim is “pursuing a new policy to become a developing country without nuclear weapons, rather than a poor country with nuclear weapons,” he said.
“He has chosen the route of pursuing denuclearization and a peace treaty through dialogue, and is appointing a new generation of military leaders to set the tone for his vision,” the professor said.
“Kim Jong Un has chosen a new leadership who reflects his new approach and can more naturally propagate his new policies to bring stability within the military,” he added.
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