North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

New KPA Special Operations Forces Commander

Lt. Gen. Kim Yong Bok (annotated), commander of XI Corps, attends a multiple-launch rocket drill with Kim Jong Un and other members of the KPA high command in late December 2014 (NK Leadership Watch file photo).

Lt. Gen. Kim Yong Bok (annotated), commander of XI Corps, attends a multiple-launch rocket drill with Kim Jong Un and other members of the KPA high command in late December 2014 (Photo: KCNA).

Lt. Gen. Kim Yong Bok (Kim Yo’ng-pok) has been appointed commanding officer of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] XI Corps (or Storm Corps), the military’s primary special operations forces [SOF] unit.  Lt. Gen. Kim was identified as XI Corps commander when he attended and spoke at a meeting commemorating late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il’s birth anniversary at Ku’msusan Memorial Palace of the Sun on February 13 (Friday).  Lt. Gen. Kim attended a multiple-launch rocket [MRL] drill with Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) in late December, but was not explicitly identified as XI Corps Commander.

Former XI Corps Commander Choe Kyong Song (Photo: NK Leadership Watch file photo).

Former XI Corps Commander Choe Kyong Song (Photo: NK Leadership Watch file photo).

Kim Yong Bok replaces Col. Gen. Choe Kyong Song, who was also a member of the Workers’ Party of Korea [WPK] Central Committee and the WPK Central Military Commission.  There were rumors that Col. Gen. Choe had been replaced during 2014, but there was no reliable information about his successor.  It is not clear if Col. Gen. Choe, who has personal ties to the Kim Family, has migrated to another senior KPA position, was sent away for revolutionization to return later to another senior KPA position, or has been dismissed entirely.  This marks the seventh personnel change to the KPA’s high command that DPRK state media has publicized within the last 75 days.

A meeting of KPA officers and service members marking the Day of the Shining Star (Kim Jong Il's birth anniversary) on the plaza of the Ku'msusan Memorial Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on February 13, 2015 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

A meeting of KPA officers and service members marking the Day of the Shining Star (Kim Jong Il’s birth anniversary) on the plaza of the Ku’msusan Memorial Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on February 13, 2015 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

At the meeting marking KJI’s birth anniversary, Lt. Gen. Kim Yong Bok was part of a group of speakers that included VMar Hwang Pyong So (Director of the KPA General Political Department), RAdm Ho Sang Mun (Vice Commander of the KPA Navy), Col. Gen. Choe Yong Ho (Commander of the KPA Air and Anti-Air Force) and Col. Gen. Kim Rak Gyom (Commander of the KPA Strategic Force).  According to KCNA, VMar Hwang Pyong So said that:

All the service personnel marking the Day of the Shining Star, the greatest national holiday, paid the highest tribute to the Generalissimos and extended best wishes for their immortality.

Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il), who had an iron will to successfully accomplish with arms the revolutionary cause of Chuch’e started and led to victory by Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng), performed immortal feats on behalf of the country and the revolution, the era and the history with his brilliant wisdom, outstanding and experienced Military-First (So’ngun) revolutionary leadership.

Kim Jong Il developed the KPA into the army strong in idea and faith and loyal to the party and the leader and a-match-for-a-hundred revolutionary armed forces and achieved one victory after another in the battle for defending socialism unprecedented in history, making difficult long Military-First (So’ngun) journeys with his iron will and superhuman efforts.

If the gangster-like U.S. imperialists, the chieftain of aggression and provocation, encroach upon the DPRK’s sovereignty, dignity and right to existence even in 0.001 mm, the KPA will make the most merciless and deadliest strike at them.

According to KCNA, the other speakers at meetings “reiterated their will to achieve the great cause of Mt. Paektu without fail with the invincible might of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il’s army and Kim Jong Un’s powerful revolutionary army, flying the red flag of the Workers’ Party of Korea as the first colors of the revolution.”

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