Kim Seeks to Strengthen Grip on Power
North Korea announced Wednesday that its young leader, Kim Jong-un, who took over from his late father Kim Jong-il in December, has assumed the title of marshal, the second highest military title in the country, second only to grand marshal.
The announcement of Kim's new title came two days after the sacking of the army chief Ri Yong-ho, who was later replaced by a veteran but low-profile field commander.
Analysts believe the recent changes in military personnel and titles reflected Kim's attempt to consolidate his grip on power.
Lee Sung-yoon, a North Korea specialist at the Fletcher School of Tufts University in Boston, sees the unsurprising "promotion" of Kim Jong-un as his way of trying to publicly bolster his image and credentials in preparation for diplomatic maneuvers with regards to Beijing, Washington and Seoul.
"Kim wishes to visit China. He wishes to engage the US president in concessionary diplomacy once again. Further, as bizarre as this may sound, if Kim were to make a bold proposal to the South Korean president for a summit meeting, that would put immense pressure on Lee Myung-bak and steer the political wind in South Korea in North Korea's favor in the months leading up to the South Korea's presidential election in December," Lee said.
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