North Korea on Wednesday named its young leader, Kim Jong Eun, as “marshal” of the military, a preeminent job title that analysts say is designed both to reinforce his absolute power and warn off senior elites who might question it.
The title appears redundant, because Kim already served as the military’s supreme commander. But the timing of the announcement is significant, outside experts say, coming just two days after the North dismissed a top army leader — perceived hard-liner Ri Yong Ho — and perhaps doubling as a message about Kim’s willingness to shape the 1.2-million strong military however he sees fit.
What Kim will do with the military remains a fiercely debated question in Seoul and Washington; the issue also holds deep implications for an impoverished country of 24 million that channels its scant resources toward weapons and nuclear technology.
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