18 Jul 2012

North Korea's leader now marshal of the army

10:56 pm on 18 July 2012

North Korean media has announced the country's leader, Kim Jong-un, has assumed the role of marshal of the army.

The move comes after the new ruler - the son of the late Kim Jong-il - reshuffled his military leadership, the BBC reports.

Army chief Ri Yong-ho was removed ''due to illness'' and a little-known general promoted.

Marshal is the highest military rank and would cement Mr Kim's control over the army, reports say.

The title of marshal was previously held by the late Mr Kim, who received a posthumous promotion to the rank of generalissimo in February, when the country marked his 70th birthday.

''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,'' a statement from KCNA state media says.

KCNA says the decision was jointly made by the Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea, the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK.

The BBC's correspondent in South Korea says the announcement is another sign that Kim Jong-un is planning to rule North Korea through the army, just as his father did, and that he is tightening his grip on the levers of power.