North Korea replaces defence minister

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un has replaced his defence minister, a report said Wednesday - the latest in a series of senior military reshuffles since Kim came to power in late 2011.

General Hyon Yong-Chol replaced Jang Jong-Nam as Minister of the People's Armed Forces, the South's Yonhap news agency said, citing North Korean state television which referred to Hyon as the new minister on Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear when the personnel change took place.

Jang, who was only appointed in May last year, was last mentioned by the North's state media as holding the post on June 4.

Since taking over the position of North Korea's supreme leader from his father Kim Jong-Il, who died of a heart attack in late 2011, Kim Jong-Un has frequently replaced top military leaders in a bid to tighten his grip on the North's 1.2-million-strong armed forces.

In North Korea, the defence minister is mainly in charge of logistics and international exchanges. Policy-making is handled by the powerful National Defence Commission and the party Central Military Commission.

"It is highly likely that Kim Jong-Un has found problems with logistics on his inspection trips to military units this year," Chang Yong-Seok, senior researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification at Seoul National University told AFP.

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