North Korean Military Official Regains Prominent Position in Year-End Reshuffle

SEOUL, South Korea – In a significant turn of events, North Korean Marshal Pak Jong-chon, who was dismissed from his position earlier this year, has reclaimed his role as the second most powerful figure in the nation's military. This development comes as part of a year-end reshuffle within the ruling party, as reported by state media on Sunday.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Pak Jong-chon was appointed as the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea. This appointment was a key outcome of the five-day plenary meeting of the party's Central Committee, which concluded on Saturday. Pak, who was previously removed from his position on January 1st, made a public comeback in August during a visit to a munitions factory accompanied by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who is also the chair of the Central Military Commission. Before his recent promotion, Pak had been overseeing the party's military political leadership.

The reshuffle also marked Pak's appointment as a member of the politburo and a secretary of the Central Committee. Having started as an artillery commander, Pak ascended to the Chief of the General Staff in September 2019 and was promoted to vice marshal in May 2020, reaching his current rank in October of the same year.

Jo Chun-ryong, the director of the party's Munitions Industry Department, also received significant promotions during the reshuffle. He was named both a member of the politburo and a secretary of the Central Committee. Jo, responsible for the production of conventional artillery shells, has been seen frequently with Kim Jong-un during inspections of munitions factories throughout the year. His appointment comes amid allegations from Seoul and Washington that Pyongyang is supplying arms to Moscow for the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Both the South Korean and U.S. governments have imposed sanctions on Jo Chun-ryong, and in 2016, he was included in a travel ban list by a U.N. Security Council Resolution.

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