Kim Jong-un reshuffles top officials more often to secure loyalty, tighten power grip: ministry

SEOUL– North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has carried out reshuffles of senior party and military officials more frequently this year in an apparent bid to elicit their loyalty and tighten his grip on power, according to Seoul’s unification ministry Thursday.

The ministry published an update of the who’s who book, titled “Information on Key Figures in North Korea.”

The book contains details of changes in key organs and information of major figures in the North that were compiled based on reports from its state media for one year from October 2021.

It showed a sweeping replacement of key officials at the political bureau and secretariat of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).

The Kim regime is seen as having constantly used personnel reshuffles, particularly often in the fields of discipline and military, as a means to make ranking officials take responsibility for fulfilling party orders and tasks, a ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The number of the WPK’s political bureau members declined to nine in the cited period from 11 the previous year. Ri Son-gwon, the head of the United Front Department tasked with handling inter-Korean relations, was demoted to an alternate member from a member of the bureau.

Two of highest-level officials in the military were replaced in June, while the defense minister retained the post.

Ri Thae-sop, former social security minister, was appointed chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), and Jong Kyong-thaek, former state security minister, as director of the KPA General Political Bureau.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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