(ATTN: UPGRADES attribution; CHANGES dateline; UPDATES throughout with comments from intelligence source)
SEOUL/TOKYO, June 3 (Yonhap) -- All of North Korea's three top military officials are believed to have been replaced, an intelligence source said Sunday, in a move that could be aimed at taming the military ahead of a denuclearization deal with the U.S.
No Kwang-chol, first vice minister of the Ministry of People's Armed Forces, replaced Pak Yong-sik as defense chief, while Ri Myong-su, chief of the KPA's general staff, was replaced by his deputy, Ri Yong-gil, according to the source.
These changes are in addition to Army Gen. Kim Su-gil's replacement of Kim Jong-gak as director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army. The replacement was confirmed in a North Korean state media report last month.
Earlier in the day, a Japanese newspaper carried a similar report.
"The North appears to have brought in new figures amid the changes in inter-Korean relations and the situation on the Korean Peninsula as the previous officials lacked flexibility in thinking," the source said. "In particular, No Kwang-chol has been classified as a moderate person."
The changes could also be aimed at taming the military because members of the armed forces could object to a denuclearization deal that leader Kim could make in the summit talks with U.S. President Donald Trump set for June 12 in Singapore.
The replacements may also represent a generational change, another intelligence source said.