What Was Behind Ri Yong Ho’s Departure?

July 17th, 2012
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It has been a busy seven-plus months for North Korea watchers – between Kim Jong Il’s death and funeral, the April Party Conference and SPA meeting, as well as nuclear negotiations and the failed rocket launch, there’s been plenty to speculate about. Now comes news that Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho, Chief of the Korean

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  • Nicolas_levi

    Your analysis is very accurate, especially taking in account that he’s
    quite young being born in 1942 and that he was given the title of
    general only in 2002. According to me, being present in the media,
    being a marshal in the Korean Army, etc.
    does not mean that the person considered has a real power. The NK society is very
    specific and we cannot analyze it like other societies. Ri Yong Ho was
    probably only an advisor to persons who had the real power in North
    Korea. People who have power are persons who are working in departments
    where the rotation is very low. Therefore I would reduce the importance
    of a such information. 

  • Luke Herman

    In the interest of honesty – there is a piece here (in Korean) http://www.ytn.co.kr/_ln/0101_201204290408303575 that says U Tong Chuk (who I identified as being another prominent member to have been purged) may have actually had a serious health issue rather than being removed. Certainly would make sense, although even if this was the case I still think the second theory is the most likely. 

    Nicolas,
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree, rankings and stats not the end all be all – but think they can still be useful if we’re careful to draw on all sources (and of course maintain a healthy skepticism that we really know what’s going on). 

  • Nicolas_levi

    I’m rather focussing on institutions than on people. However if a key person is loosing his position but reappearing with new assignements, it may mean that he’s powerful. A long term eviction seems to be a piece of evidence, that the concerned person is not powerful. 

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