Jang Song-taek Cronies Appear at Ceremony in Pyongyang

Several confidants of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's uncle Jang Song-taek, who was executed last week, appeared among officials attending a solemn ceremony in Pyongyang on Tuesday. The occasion was the second anniversary of former leader Kim Jong-il's death.

Deputy Premier Ro Tu-chol, Mun Kyong-dok, the head of the Workers Party's Pyongyang chapter, and erstwhile premier Choe Yong-rim stood to the left of Kim Jong-un, while to his right stood Gen. Choe Bu-il, minister of people's security, and senior military Politburo official Ri Byong-sam.

All five were close to Jang but have so far apparently escaped the purge.

Although the officials were placed according to their ranks, it is remarkable that so many of Jang's erstwhile cronies appeared at the event.

A Unification Ministry official said their presence confirms that they are safe in their positions for now.

Experts said the purge of Jang's numerous supporters appears to have been put on the back burner for now. Many are expected to be replaced at a senior party meeting in April.

North Korea watchers believe Kim is throttling back the pace of his bloody purges to prevent widespread instability.

One informed source said some of Jang's confidants may have turned informants against their champion in order to survive.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 18, 2013 09:30 KST

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