nuclear, foreign policy
Kim Jong Un in January 2022 (Rodong Sinmun-News1)

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un recently approved a military shakeup to replace the heads of every prosecutor’s office at the corps and headquarters level in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Strategic Forces.

A high-ranking Daily NK source in the North Korean military said Kim issued an order on Apr. 6 replacing the head prosecutors with officials currently working for the party’s Central Committee. 

The source said this is the first time an order to simultaneously change all head prosecutors at the corps and headquarters level has been issued since Kim came to power.

Another military source told Daily NK that the top military prosecutors were replaced from Apr. 7, with formerly civilian Central Committee cadres donning military uniforms to take over.

According to the source, the shakeup at the corps and headquarters level began on Apr. 7 and will last until Apr. 24. The new prosecutors’ duties will begin from midnight Sunday.

Prior to this, Kim ordered the Military Government Guidance Department to submit a written proposal evaluating military activities over the last 10 years and presenting plans to rebuild the military into a new organization over the next decade.

In its report, the Military Government Guidance Department said the most critical issue is correcting military discipline by eliminating corruption, an age-old problem within the armed forces, beginning by ensuring that military prosecutors are performing their proper roles.

The source said the leadership found that because military prosecutors have been joined at the hip with the armed forces, the authorities cannot resolve fundamental problems even if they conduct multifaceted inspections at every opportunity each year. He said the shakeup aims to cut the “rotten flesh” from the military by naming Central Committee cadres loyal to the party leadership — and free from personal entanglements within the military — as head prosecutors.

However, the source said within the military, people complain that with corruption rife due to the state’s meager provisions, a mere change of personnel will change nothing. They also complain that placing civilians in the role of chief military prosecutor represents a slap in the face of the armed forces.

Some military personnel also speculate that with the Central Committee downsizing, the party is giving party officials jobs in the military. The source said even though the Military Government Guidance Department says this is a separate matter, it is also keeping an eye on internal resentment over the move.

Meanwhile, the previous chief prosecutors who suddenly lost their jobs are reportedly scrambling to survive.

The source said the previous prosecutors were old military hands or individuals named to their positions by the military’s party committee at the recommendation of unit party committees, but they have little choice but to obey Kim’s order. He said since they cannot become lower-ranked prosecutors in the offices they used to lead, they are now either seeking discharges or inquiring about other positions.

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