North Korea rear commanders promoted, analyst says

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Nov. 2 (UPI) — The majority of North Korea‘s senior military commanders were promoted to their positions during the Kim Jong Un period, an indication Kim wants to reduce tensions with the South, according to new research from the Institute for National Security Research in Seoul.

South Korean analyst Ko Jae-hong said Monday in a new issue briefing on the North Korean military parade that most of the new corps commanders of Pyongyang’s military were promoted after Kim fully assumed power in 2012. The evidence was on display at the 75th anniversary parade, News 1 and Newsis reported.

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North Korea’s military divisions Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 5, and divisions of North Korea’s rear army corps 3, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 were part of the parade, Ko said.

The analyst also identified the 105th Armored Division, four mechanized infantry divisions, the navy, air force and strategic forces, as well as the 91 Metropolitan Defense Corps, the Pyongyang District Anti-Aircraft Artillery Command and special ops forces.

According to Ko’s analysis, all North Korea front-line corps commanders have been replaced with former rear corps commanders. The changes indicate all the military commanders of the front line have been removed from their positions and were not promoted to higher office.

The South Korean research also identified North Korea’s Bang Tu Sop as the officer promoted to general operations director under Kim. Bang was promoted in April 2012. Other top officers promoted under Kim include Pak Su Il, Choe Tu Yong and Pak Kwang Ju.

Ko said Kim’s appointments of rear commanders does “leave room for interpretation” about the North Korean leader’s intentions. The policy could mean Kim does “not want to increase military tensions” at the inter-Korea border. Kim’s decision “should not adversely affect inter-Korea relations,” Ko said.

The South Korean analysis comes weeks after North Korea media reported a military general with a three-star rank was promoted to lead North Korea’s Strategic Force. Kim Jong Gil was seen marching with troops and saluting Kim Jong Un at the military parade on Oct. 10.