Kim Jong Il has been elevated to the rank of Democratic People’s Republic of Chosun Grand Marshal, North Korea’s highest military rank and the one he alone shares with father Kim Il Sung.
The decision was revealed today, the 15th, pursuant to a decision taken yesterday by the combined Party Central Committee and Central Military Committee, National Defense Commission and Supreme People’s Assembly.
It was twenty years ago in 1992 that Kim Jong Il received the previous rank of Marshal, while Kim Il Sung was made Grand Marshal two days before his 80th birthday in April, 1992.
The news had been predicted; in January, Daily NK reported that an order had been handed down by the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces calling for each unit to submit by the start of February a written “suggestion” that Kim Jong Il be made Grand Marshal to celebrate the 70th anniversary of his birthday, which is tomorrow.
23 other military officers were simultaneously promoted, according to Rodong Shinmun. These include Kim Jeong Gak, the head of the General Political Bureau of the Chosun People’s Army, who has become a vice marshal, Kim Young Cheol, the head of the General Bureau of Reconnaissance, and Party secretary Park Do Chun, both of whom have become generals.
Yesterday also saw the unveiling of a new statue at Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang of Kim Jong Il riding a horse. It joins an existing statue of Kim Il Sung, also mounted on a horse.
The ceremony to mark the unveiling of the statue was attended by Pyongyang residents, military officers and key regime figures including Supreme People’s Assembly Standing Committee Chairman Kim Young Nam, Cabinet Prime Minister Choi Young Rim and Army Chief of Staff Lee Young Ho. Kim Young Nam gave a speech at the event, which was later broadcast by Chosun Central News Agency.
Kim Jong Eun was not present at the event, although he did send the most prominent of a collection of commemorative bouquets (see picture, centre)