December 06, 2023

Defections and Demotions

Less than four months after being awarded the title of “Vice Marshal”, Hyon Yong Chol, the Chief of the Army General Staff, appears to have been demoted to a four-star general (See picture below). This comes soon after a North Korean soldier apparently killed two of his senior officers and fled across the DMZ. The fact that he was able to do so undetected has set off a great deal of controversy within South Korea.

The defection has also raised the ire of the North Korean leadership. Both Chosun Ilbo and Yonhap believe Hyon’s demotion is related to the defection, especially because the unit the soldier defected from is directly under the General Staff’s command. Units on the front lines are carefully picked because of their location, making defections very rare (the last was in March 2010).