In an unexpected and major reshuffle, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un expelled his bodyguard and the head of Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), North Korea's spy agency, even as rumours continue to float regarding his disappearance.
Conspiracy theorists suspect that Kim Jong Un, who appeared only once in the last five weeks to inaugurate a fertilizer factory in Pyongyang on May 1, staged his own disappearance in order to expose traitors in his inner circle.
Reshuffle a Show of Power?
According to The Korea Herald, a South-Korea based English-language newspaper, Lt. Gen. Rim Kwang-il replaced Jang Kil-song as the director of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB). Jang Kil-song was appointed as the head of the North Korean spy agency in December 2019. Reportedly, the newly appointed director was also anointed as a member of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers' Party.
Army General Yun Jong-rin, who was the tyrant's bodyguard since 2010, was also sacked immediately. Kwak Chang-sik, a member of the ruling party's central committee, has been appointed as the new Supreme Guard commander. Apart from replacing the two prominent heads, the hermit kingdom also appointed Hyun Song-wol, known for leading the all-female Moranbong band in North Korea, to vice director of the propaganda and agitation department, reported the publication.
Notorious for conducting hermit kingdom's spy operations, cyber warfare and other attacks on South Korea, Japan and the United States, RGB is rumoured to have orchestrated the 2010 attack on one of its navy vessels that killed 46 sailors.
Fate of Kim-Yo jong Uncertain
The reshuffle, which reflects the North Korean dictator's move of further tightening his grip, was announced by the Unification Ministry in its annual publication.
"Last year, 80 percent of the politburo members were replaced and nine of 11 members, or 82 percent, of the State Affairs Commission were changed. This indicates the generation shifts and [Kim's] focus on performance-based personnel reshuffle. It can be seen that Kim has consolidated power in the country, as well," a ministry official told the publication on the condition of anonymity.
However, the fate of Kim's sister Kim Yo jong remains uncertain in wake of the recent and unexpected cabinet reshuffle. Widely hailed as Kim's successor amid rumours of his death and being in a vegetative state, Kim Yo Jong's has remained away from the public eye since Kim's reappearance event on May 1. According to the ministry official, she could be part of the Organisation and Guidance Department, Propaganda and Agitation Department or another, unknown post.