In January, former North Korean four-star Kim Myong Guk was seen wearing only three stars on his collar. Most analysts believed he had been held accountable for North Korea’s loss to South Korea in a naval skirmish off the west coast in November.
But North Korean television footage and photographs released over the weekend find the 70-year-old fielding that fourth star once more.
The JoongAng Daily, a daily paper printed in Seoul, reported Monday that the demotion-to-promotion turnaround was related to the March 26 sinking of a South Korean naval ship near the western sea border with the North.
“It is extremely rare for a general who wasn’t included in the major promotion to move up a rank in a separate move,” a South Korean government official was quoted as saying.
Kim was not among generals in major promotions of generals conducted twice earlier this month.
The South Korean government has not officially accused North Korea of sinking the 1,200-ton Cheonan, but a North Korean torpedo attack — possibly a three-person “human torpedo” — has been suspected as the cause.