Two key officials in charge of North Korea's missile development were absent at recent major events, a mass rally in Pyongyang on Saturday and the Workers Party anniversary on Tuesday.
Neither Ri Man-gon, who oversees the party's department in charge of nuclear weapons and missile development, nor Kim Rak-gyom, the head of the Strategic Rocket Forces who is in charge of ballistic missile launches, showed up.
That has given rise to speculation that they are busy somewhere else preparing for a fresh missile launch.
"Ri and Kim were not seen in the footage and images released by North Korean state media of a full session of the party's committee last Saturday," a government source here said Tuesday.
"There's little chance that Ri and Kim have been dismissed or purged because they've been praised for major achievements recently," a staffer of a government-funded think tank here said. "It's highly likely that they were absent because they'd been given an important assignment."
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