Who Is Lee Young Ho?

The Chosun Workers’ Party yesterday moved to publicize the third generation succession and conducted a sweeping reshuffle aimed at realizing the Kim Jong Eun system during its long-awaited Delegates’ Conference, with one of the biggest winners appearing to be Chosun People’s Army Chief of Staff Lee Young Ho.

He now looks well placed to become one of the most important figures in the Kim Jong Eun succession system.

One of the most interesting of several changes to core positions within the Central Committee made yesterday was that the Party moved to create a new position, “Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Central Committee”. Moved into this newly-minted position of power were Kim Jong Eun and Lee.

In the existing Party structure, committees only have chairmen, members, and candidate members, so this move was unprecedented.

Lee Young Ho also received another promotion on the 27th, at the same time as Kim Jong Eun and Kim Kyung Hee were anointed as generals. However, Lee’s promotion was one higher than that of the two Kim family members; to “Chasu”, or Vice-Marshal.

Where the South Korean and U.S. military share a military ranking system which features five ranks of general, from one-star through five-star, the North Korean military has seven. While Kim Jong Eun and Kim Kyung Hee became “Daejang”, which lies between a three and four-star general in U.S. military terms, Lee’s new rank, Vice-Marshal, is somewhere between a four and five-star general.

Then, having been made Vice-Marshal Lee on Monday, Lee dramatically arrived as one of the leading figures in the “Kim Jong Il-Kim Jong Eun era” by being elected to the Politburo of the Central Committee and the Central Committee, as well as the new post, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission.

He was also listed as a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo alongside Kim Jong Il, Kim Young Nam, Choi Young Rim, and Cho Myung Rok.

Appointment to the Standing Committee of the Politburo is significant because the Politburo is among the highest organ in the Party, in charge of the political and ideological guidance needed to undertake jobs in the Secretariat and issuing policy suggestions. It even makes executive decisions on all kinds of Party tasks during periods when the general assembly of the Central Committee is not in session.

A professor with Korea National Defense University, Kim Yeon Su predicted in an interview with The Daily NK today, “Lee Young Ho, who contributed much to Kim Jong Eun seizing power in the military and has now taken these high positions, seems likely to emerge as a close associate of Kim Jong Eun.”

Around January, when Kim Jong Eun was being publicized internally as the successor, Lee Young Ho was again promoted, at that time to Chief of the General Staff.

Professor Kim said, “We can say that Kim Young Ho’s support for Kim Jong Eun in terms of the Military-first political line began at around this time. There is the possibility that he aided Kim Jong Eun’s Military-first leadership achievements with his belligerent attitude.”

It has been claimed that North Korea’s recent firing of around 100 shells towards the NLL in the West Sea was done on Kim Jong Eun’s orders.