This photo taken on February 8, 2018 and released on February 9, 2018 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean soldiers marching during the military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean People's Army at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang.North Korea staged a military parade in Pyongyang on February 8 to mark the 70th anniversary of its armed forces, putting its intercontinental ballistic missiles on show just a day before the Winter Olympics open in the South. AFP PHOTO

SEOUL: North Korea state media on Friday confirmed the sacking of the country's military chief Hwang Pyong So, after Southern reports said he had been fired for corruption.

The North's KCNA news agency, reporting on a military parade in Pyongyang the previous day, introduced armed forces minister Kim Jong Gak as vice marshal and director of the military's General Political Bureau -- a post previously held by Hwang.

The General Political Bureau is the North's most powerful military body, in charge of assigning officers to posts and keeping ideological control over its estimated 1.3 million troops.

Hwang had been dismissed following an inspection into the bureau and sent to a party school for re-education, the South's National Intelligence Service said earlier this week. News reports said Hwang was caught taking bribes.

North Korea's military generals, high-ranking officials and even members of the ruling Kim family are subject to periodic purges under the rule of leader Kim Jong Un.

The nuclear-armed North is on an Olympics-linked charm offensive, sending athletes, a troupe of performers, hundreds of female cheerleaders, the ceremonial head of state and even Kim's sister to South Korea.

But the military parade in Pyongyang on Thursday added to critics' doubts in the South over the sudden rapprochement, which follows a series of weapons tests. — AFP

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