Did North Korea’s Number 2 Man Get Demoted?
luvsmiling, March 10, 2015, 7:32 a.m.
Choe Ryong-hae, for some time North Korea's de facto No. 2 official, has been demoted from the Politburo standing committee to ordinary membership in the Workers Party. The official Rodong Sinmun daily, reporting a party rally marking International Women's Day on Sunday, identified Choe by his new role.
As recently as a party meeting on Feb. 16 Choe was credited with the grander old title, which suggests he was demoted at on Feb. 18. Choe, who ascended to the second-most powerful man after Kim Jong-un took office but has recently been eclipsed by military politburo chief Hwang Pyong-so.
But not long earlier Choe himself had returned from a spot in the wilderness to assume his old role, firming suspicions that Kim Jon-un is playing a complex game of musical chairs at the top to prevent anyone ever amassing power like his late uncle.
The Politburo standing committee is a key decision-making body within the Workers Party and has only three members -- Kim himself, perennial rubber-stamp president Kim Yong-nam, and Choe, suggesting it is mainly a ceremonial body. Hwang has now replaced Choe.
Meanwhile, the Asahi Shimbun reported that Choe may have been pointedly demoted or the standing committee, one of a welter of organizations dubbed "powerful" in the media but often performing very similar tasks, has been streamlined.