HONG KONG — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un dismissed his country’s top general and ordered the military to step up war preparations “in an offensive way,” state media reported Thursday.
Kim held a meeting of the central military commission in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, on Wednesday and discussed plans against its enemy, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. It did not say who the enemy was.
Kim pointed at Seoul and its surrounding area on a map in front of the uniformed generals, pictures released by the agency showed.
Gen. Pak Su Il was also removed from his post as chief of the general staff after just seven months, it said.
Ri Yong Gil, a military veteran who has previously served as defense minister and chief of the general staff, was appointed in his place, the agency added.
It remains to be seen whether Pak’s dismissal is significant, according to Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a professor of international relations at King’s College London.
“It would be more important to see whether Pak is losing all his positions or not,” he said. “If yes, I think there is a bigger change.”
He said that he didn’t think the meeting indicated “that North Korea is an increased threat, but I just think that these are reinforcement of the previous message,” and “an escalation in rhetoric that has been going on for a while.”
North Korea has launched several missiles since the start of this year, and last month it launched the Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile, which officials said could reach the U.S. mainland.
It also threatened to shoot down American spy planes after what it said were incursions into its airspace.
At Wednesday’s meeting in Pyongyang, KCNA reported, Kim wanted the army to conduct drills and actively to test new weapons.
It came after he inspected military factories Sunday and urged them to increase their capacity, the agency said. Read more here..