N.Korea's Eminence Grise At Ease in Power

North Korea's eminence grise Jang Song-taek, the uncle of leader Kim Jong-un, is apparently at ease and securely installed in his position, if his body language is anything to go by.

Jang was spotted sitting informally askew while Kim was delivering a speech at a formal ceremony, while the rest of the North Korean apparatchiks sat stiffly to attention like tin soldiers.

State TV aired footage of the 4th Meeting of Party Cell Secretaries on Tuesday which showed Jang sitting in the background with his left arm leaning against the armrest of his chair or staring off into the distance while Kim was delivering a speech.

South Korean intelligence officials who monitored the footage say such behavior is extremely rare in the North and contrasted starkly with other senior officials like Kim Yong-nam, the perpetual president of the Supreme People’s Assembly, Choe Yong-rim, the prime minister and army chief Choe Ryong-hae, who sat upright facing the young leader.

"We've frequently spotted Jang Song-taek looking unfazed by Kim Jong-un's presence and we are repeatedly hearing rumors that he is the person who is really in power in the North," said one intelligence official at the Defense Ministry here on Thursday.

Another knowledgeable source said, "Jang Song-taek shares major documents that are reported to Kim Jong-un and appears to be deeply involved in major policy decisions, advising Kim on all state affairs."

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 01, 2013 09:41 KST