Hundreds of North Korean soldiers danced in Pyongyang on Wednesday after it was announced that leader Kim Jong Eun had been named “marshal,” the highest rank in the country’s 1.2-million-member military.
On Monday, North Korea’s former top military official, Ri Yong Ho, was relieved of his duties, with the state-run media citing illness.
North Koreans are prone to coordinated public displays. On April 15, the country commemorated the 100th birthday of founding president Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Eun’s grandfather, with a gymnastics and theater show. And in December, mass episodes of public crying were televised after the death of Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Eun’s father.
The Washington Post reported that the title of marshal is a “preeminent” one, citing analysts who said it was designed to reinforce Kim Jong Eun’s absolute power and warn off members of senior elites who might question it.
The Associated Press called it “another brick in the wall of consolidating Kim Jong Eun’s power, across party, state and military institutions,” citing John Delury, a North Korea analyst at Yonsei University in South Korea.
Marshal is the latest in a string of titles Kim has amassed. Recent credentials awarded to him include first chairman of the National Defense Commission, first secretary of the Workers’ Party, chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission, member of the Presidium of the party’s Political Bureau and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army.