Gen. Kim Kyok-sik, in charge of troops in the southwest of North Korea and deemed a total loyalist, is believed to have personally masterminded and ordered the attack in March on the South Korean Navy corvette, the Cheonan, in which 46 South Korean sailors died.
“He may be one of the most trustworthy generals,” says Kim Tae-woo, a senior fellow at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses . He’s also one of the youngest, though still in his 60s. Analysts suggest that he might adopt a more independent course once Kim Jong-il steps down – and may not want to support Jang Song-thaek.
General Kim is a former Army chief of staff and was somewhat “demoted” to his present post, but clearly has support where it counts.