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Iran Press TV

New defense chief named in N Korea media

Iran Press TV

Sat Jul 11, 2015 1:38PM

North Korea has reportedly named a four-star general as the country's new defense minister three months after the previous military chief was dismissed under suspicious circumstances.

In a report about the defense negotiations with the government of Laos on Saturday, the country's official KCNA news agency pointed to General Pak Yong-sik as "head of the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces," AFP reported, saying that the position is equivalent to the country's defense minister.

According to the report, Pak has been featured in a number of official press reports in recent weeks as a member of the entourage of leader Kim Jong-un, triggering speculations that he would be appointed to the top military post.

This is while rival South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the new North Korean defense minister is believed to rank the second or third highest in the country's military hierarchy.

Yonhap also reported that Pak was promoted to major general in the country's army in 1999, advancing through the ranks to become a four-star general in May.

This is the first time, the report adds, that North Korea has acknowledged the appointment of a replacement for Pak's predecessor, Hyon Yong-chol, following his dismissal in April as part of a purging effort.

This is while the South Korean spy agency initially claimed that Hyon was purged due to his disloyalty as well as dozing off during official events presided by the country's young leader.

Doubts emerged about his rumored execution after Seoul's National Intelligence Service admitted that it was not able to verify such reports.

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