PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA (BNO NEWS) -- North Korea has awarded its leader Kim Jong-un the title of marshal, the top commander of the country's army, state-run media reported on Wednesday. It comes just days after an unexpected shake-up in the North's military leadership.
"A decision was made to award the title of Marshal of the DPRK to Kim Jong-un, supreme commander of the Korean People's Army," the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a brief report, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The report said the decision, which makes Kim the highest ranked military officer, was made on Tuesday by the Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, the National Defense Commission of the DPRK and the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK.
No other details were immediately released.
On Monday, a brief government statement said North Korean military chief Ri Yong Ho had been relieved of his official posts during a meeting in Pyongyang on Sunday. It said Ri, 69, was relieved of his duties due to an unspecified illness, although the reclusive state has previously used illnesses and accidents as a pretext to get rid of high-ranking officials. Others have simply vanished unannounced.
Ri was appointed chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in 2009 and had since been one of the most senior officials in North Korea. He frequently accompanied the new Supreme Leader leader, Kim Jong-un, and previously leader Kim Jong-il until he died in December 2011.
Ri's last known public appearance was on July 8 when he attended a remembrance concert commemorating the 18th death anniversary of Kim Il-sung, who ruled the country from December 1972 until July 1994 and was later named Eternal President of the Republic. Kim was succeeded by his son Kim Jong-il, who in turn was succeeded by his son Kim Jong-un.
Ri appeared to be healthy in recent public appearances, raising questions among analysts who believe Kim Jong-un may be purging the ruling elite as he attempts to put his own mark on the impoverished nation he inherited when his father died. On Tuesday, the military named little-known Hyon Yong Chol as the army's new vice marshal.
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