North Korea's new leader Kim Jong-un has been given the title of marshal, the country's highest military rank, which confers full control over the army.
KCNA, the state news agency of North Korea, reports that "a decision was made to award the title of marshal of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to Kim Jong-un, supreme commander of the Korean People's Army".
Kim's father, Kim Jong-il, held the title of marshal until his death in December. He inherited the rank from his father, Kim Il-sung.
The rank was bestowed on Kim following a military reshuffle in which vice-marshal Ri Yong-ho was removed, officially on the grounds of illness, with a relatively unknown general appointed in his place. Some experts believe it signified a handover of power, with Kim Jong-il's allies from the last regime being phased out in favour of a new hierarchy to serve his son.
Kim's control of the army is now assured, according to reports. Cheong Seong-chang, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute thinktank, told Al-Jazeera:
"This is the only title left for Jong-un to decorate himself with, after he assumed almost all party and army positions."
South Korea has not responded to the move. However, Wai Ho Leong, a senior economist at Barclays Capital in Singapore, told Bloomberg that the decision to give Kim the title of marshall was "actually a positive for Seoul".
"Pundit speculation of a power struggle, or coup by hardliners, has not materialised," he said. "The transition has been smoother and faster than expected and this points us to more stability in North Korea and capital markets."