On June 11th, Chosun Central News Agency reported that Kim Jong Eun has restored Choi Bu Il to the rank of “General” after he was reduced in rank earlier this year.
Choi was originally promoted to General alongside Kim Jong Eun in September 2010, and though he was appointed to the key Ministry of People’s Security (PSM) portfolio in February this year, he was also stripped of one rank at some point. However, his re-elevation appears to now reconfirm his status within the constituency of those who owe their positions to Kim, and who can be expected to remain fiercely loyal to the regime.
In issuing the order, Kim reportedly noted his “belief that all service persons of the (North Korean security services, the PSM and National Security Agency) would creditably perform their honorable mission and duty as the first-line soldiers protecting the socialist system, remaining loyal to the leadership of the Party.”
However, one high-level defector subsequently said that Choi Bu Il’s promotion indicates nothing so much as a lack of other ways for the regime to reward senior figures.
“In the Kim Jong Eun era, the regime is again over-issuing awards to top-level officials as one way to gain their loyalty,” he pointed out. “Re-conferring the rank of ‘General’ to the Minister of People Security can be seen as demanding that he remain loyal to the system.”
Choi Bu Il, originally from Hoiryeong in North Hamkyung Province, has held a number of senior offices in the North Korean military hierarchy during a career spanning more than twenty years. He received the prestigious Kim Jong Il Medal in February 2012.