North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un will now bear the title of Marshal along with a list of his other titles, Pyongyang's state media said Wednesday, ostensibly concluding the recent power shuffle that included the ouster of the Chief of Korean People's Army (KPA), Ri Yong-ho.
The title was previously held by Kim's father Kim Jong-il, who was posthumously promoted to Generalissimo in February this year.
A decision was made to award the title of Marshal of the DPRK (North Korea) to Kim Jong-Un, supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
The decision was jointly issued on Tuesday by several top state and party organs, the announcement proclaimed.
KCNA had flashed a bulletin saying it will issue an important report before the news was officially released at noon local time (0300 GMT).
Kim has been a General since September 2010, and the new title elevates him to the rank held by his predecessor during his 17 years as North Korea's leader. Kim Jong-il was awarded the rank of Marshal in 1992, two years before he took control of the country after his father's death.
North Korea appointed Hyon Yong-chol as the Vice Marshal of the KPA on Tuesday, a day after the former Army Chief and Vice-Marshal Ri was removed from all official posts due to unspecified illness.
Ri had been the Chief of the General Staff of the KPA since February 2009 and was the Vice-Chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission.
The sudden dismissal of Ri, one of the three key mentors tasked with equipping the rather young and inexperienced Kim to execute his duties, to be replaced with a lesser-known name, has sparked widespread speculation over the political action transpiring from the reclusive, nuclear-armed Asian nation.
The South Korean media speculated that Kim was wary of the military since he has virtually no military experience, which limited his influence.
The Korea Times, quoting an anonymous Seoul official said that the high-level reshuffle was aimed at solidifying Kim's power base.
We know that recently Ri caused trouble as he, by using his influence and clout, tried to intervene in other ministries' affairs, the official said. Due to the friction, the North Korean leader removed Ri from all posts he had held.
Analysts rule out health problems as a possible reason behind Ri's removal, since it is unprecedented in North Korea for a high-ranking officer to be removed from all posts and attributing it to failing health.
Senior U.S. officials, who wished to be unnamed, said they were closely monitoring the changes in Pyongyang to gauge the effect the changes may have on North's foreign policy, reported the Wall Street Journal.
The White House said that it would not evaluate the significance of the sudden removal of North Korea's military chief as a sign of North Korean leader beginning to assert himself.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaking to reporters on Monday said: Well, I don't have any comment on the specific personnel move (of Ri's dismissal). And I think that the way we address the issue of policy towards North Korea has to do with holding North Korea accountable to its international obligations and judging North Korea by its actions, and not spending a lot of time trying to read into personnel moves in what is one of the world's most opaque governments and societies.