North Korean Officials Reappear For First Time Since Reported Dismissal

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang in July. Kim reportedly dismissed military personnel, but top officials reappeared with Kim on Thursday. Photo by KCNA/Yonhap

SEOUL, Sept. 10 (UPI) — Speculation in Seoul regarding Kim Jong Un‘s reported dismissal of members of North Korea‘s Central Military Commission has subsided with the reemergence of key officials, but an analyst said personnel changes are unlikely because North Korea denies any connections to the land mine explosions in the demilitarized zone.

North Korea’s KCNA aired footage of a concert at Pyongyang’s Central Youth Hall on Thursday and showed Kim attending the performance with Hwang Pyong So, North Korea’s No. 1 political officer for the Korean People’s Army; Pak Yong Sik, armed forces minister; and Ri Yong Gil, the North Korean army’s chief of staff.

South Korean newspaper Hankook Ilbo reported Ri had disappeared after Aug. 20, a day before Pyongyang had declared a quasi-state of war as tensions escalated along the border. Until Ri reappeared in public for the first time on Thursday, there was speculation he had been dismissed in connection to the land mine provocations.

South Korea has said the land mine explosions that injured two South Korean soldiers in early August were placed south of the Military Demarcation Line by North Korea. Pyongyang has denied involvement.

Pak was absent from a meeting of top officials at the People’s Culture Palace in Pyongyang on Tuesday, which raised suspicions in Seoul about his whereabouts. Speculation subsided after Pak appeared on state television on Thursday.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at South Korea’s University of North Korean Studies said that the North is unlikely to take any serious action against military personnel for the land mine provocations, because it is denying responsibility for the incident. Taking action against officers, Yang said, would be the equivalent of an admission of fault.

North Korea had said on Aug. 28 Kim had dismissed members of the Central Military Commission without providing specific details. South Korean television network KBS reported that while other officials have reappeared, General Kim Yong Chol, director of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, was not in attendance at the concert on Thursday.


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