North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

General Kim Myong Guk's 4th Star

Gen. Kim Myong Guk, as idenitified by JoongAng Daily, is 4th from R (Photo: KCNA)

Last week, to commemorate the Korean People’s Army’s 78th anniversary, Kim Jong Il attended the military exercises of KPA Unit 115.

The training well showed the decisive resolution and merciless striking force of the KPA soldiers replete with the fighting spirit to annihilate the aggressors at one stroke, if they dare intrude into the inviolable land, sea and sky of the DPRK even an inch, and take thousand-fold revenge upon them.

Watching the brave servicepersons in training, he gave high appreciation and thanks to them for their successful training, greatly satisfied over the fact that all of them have been fully prepared in aspects of politico-ideology and military technique to promptly repel any sudden invasion by the enemy and reliably defend the socialist country.

KJI was joined by, among others, VMAR Kim Yong Chun (NDC Vice Chairman and MPAF), Gen. Kim Jong Gak (NDC Member and Senior Deputy Director of the MPAF GPD), Gen. Hyon Chol Hae (Senior Deputy Director NDC Standing Bureau) and Jang Song Taek.  KJI was also escorted and briefed by General Kim Myong Guk, Member of the KWP Central Military Committee and chief of the MPAF General Staff Department Operations Bureau.

When Gen. Kim was last seen prominently escorting KJI in January at the KPA’s joint war exercises he seemed to have been demoted from a four-star General (taejang) to a three-star Colonel General (sangjang).  JoongAng Daily notes that at last week’s training exercise, Gen. Kim’s fourth star seemed to have been returned to him.

A key general in the North Korean Army has been returned to four-star rank after a demotion earlier this year, and South Korean government and intelligence officials are scrambling to find out why.

In North Korean television footage and photographs released over the weekend, Kim Myong-guk, head of the operations bureau in the general staff of the North Korean Army, was seen wearing a general’s uniform with four-stars on his collar. On Saturday, Kim accompanied North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to military drills commemorating the 78th anniversary of the North Korean Army’s founding. The anniversary was yesterday.

Chosun Ilbo also reported on the military exercises and the location of KPA Unit 115 in South Pyongan

Kim was accompanied by Jon Byong-ho, the director of the Munitions Industry Department, as well as the Navy and Air Force commanders who were recently promoted to full generals. The 115th Army Unit is an armored infantry brigade stationed in Pyongwon-gun, South Pyongan Province.

A South Korean government official said, “I understand that it was a kind of show of force the North staged because it is suspected of involvement in the sinking of the Cheonan.” The South Korean Navy corvette sank after an unexplained explosion in the West Sea on March 26.

An affiliate of 38 North