Beijing signals support for ‘Marshal’ Kim and his supposedly reformist policies

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By Willy Lam,

While much of the world is scrambling to figure out the meaning of the latest power shifts in Pyongyang, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership has signaled early — and staunch — support for Kim Jong-Un and his supposedly pro-reform policies.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un with former chief of general staff of the Korean People's Army Ri Yong-Ho at a military parade in Pyongyang. /Kyodo/Reuters

Kim, who is believed to be in his late 20s, was suddenly awarded the title of marshal — the Korean People’s Army’s (KPA) highest rank — on Wednesday.

This followed the surprise political demise on Sunday of Ri Rong-Ho, chief of the General Staff of the KPA and a key adviser to Kim.

Ri, who apparently played a pivotal role in helping Kim consolidate his power, was dismissed from all his Party and military posts due to “ill health.”

Other personnel shifts included the equally unexpected elevation earlier this week of Choe Ryong-Hae, another high-powered general, as vice marshal.

Choe is deemed to have won a bitter struggle with Ri for the favor of new supremo Kim.

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