Hawk Returns to Senior N.Korean Army Post

      November 20, 2012 11:55

      Gen. Kim Kyok-sik, who orchestrated the artillery shelling of South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island in November of 2010, has been restored to his former rank. North Korean state TV on Monday reported leader Kim Jong-un's visit to a military squadron and showed Kim Kyok-sik, who accompanied him, wearing the insignia of a four-star general, a Unification Ministry official said.

      Gen. Kim Kyok-sik (left) is seen wearing a four-star insignia while accompanying North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to a recent visit to a military squadron. /[North] Korean Central TV-Yonhap

      Kim had been demoted to a three-star general for his apparent failure to deal effectively with Seoul's responses after the shelling of Yeonpyeong. Pyon In-son, North Korea's vice minister of the People's Armed Forces, was put in command of forces along the west coast replacing Kim.

      "Kim was demoted to vice director of the Railways Ministry, but was restored to the rank of vice minister of the Ministry of People's Armed Forces when he protested," said one intelligence official here. "It was during this time that his rank fell to three-star general."

      "There is also intelligence that Kim has been appointed deputy chief of the general staff of the People's Army," said one government official here. "We are watching closely what effect his return will have on North Korea's provocations against the South."

      A hardliner, Kim had commanded the North's forces along the west coast from 1994 to 2007. In April 2007, he was promoted to chief of the Army general staff, but was demoted in February of 2009 to corps commander overseeing the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border separating the two Koreas.

      Since Kim was posted to oversee the NLL, the North sank the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan in March 2010 and shelled Yeonpyeong Island in November of that year.

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