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Kim Jong-un gives himself new title to cement grip on power

The 29-year-old leader has given himself the title of ‘Marshal’ – previously held by his father and grandfather.

Kim Jong-un waves to supporters after a mass rally in April. Kim has given himself the title of 'Marshal' - an office previously held by his father and grandfather.
Kim Jong-un waves to supporters after a mass rally in April. Kim has given himself the title of 'Marshal' - an office previously held by his father and grandfather.
Image: David Guttenfelder/AP

KIM JONG-UN has been made “Marshal” of North Korea, a title previously held by his late father, Pyongyang said, as the young successor of the communist dynasty tightens his grip on power.

The move came as Hyon Yong-Chol was confirmed as the new army chief after his recent appointment as vice-marshal. The promotion was widely expected and sees him replace Ri Yong-Ho who was removed from his post at the weekend.

Analysts said the new title underlined Jong-Un’s efforts to reinforce control over the 1.2-million-strong military. The new leader, who is in his late 20s, has made a series of visits to military units since his father died in December.

“A decision was made to award the title of Marshal of the DPRK [North Korea] to Kim Jong-Un, supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army,” the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Wednesday.

The title of Marshal was held by both Jong-Un’s father, Kim Jong-Il, and his grandfather Kim Il-Sung, the North’s founding father.

“By donning the mantle worn by the two Kims, Jong-Un is projecting an image as a legitimate successor to the throne and tightening his grip on power,” Professor Kim Yong-Hyon of Dongguk University told AFP.

Il-Sung was promoted to “Generalissimo” in 1992, two years before his death of a heart attack, while Jong-Il was posthumously awarded the same title in February.

With Hyon promoted to vice marshal on Monday, Jong-Un, who was made a general in September 2010, apparently needed a new rank befitting the supreme commander of the military, Cheong Seong-Chang of the Sejong Institute said.

“This is the only title left for Jong-Un to decorate himself with after he assumed almost all party and army positions,” he said.

Senior military officials and thousands of soldiers gathered in Pyongyang to celebrate Jong-Un’s promotion and to pledge loyalty to the new marshal, state TV showed.

- © AFP, 2012

Read: Meet the new boss: North Korea names new army chief

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