A new face has joined North Korea's powerful National Defense Commission at the first session of the newly-elected Supreme People's Assembly on Wednesday.
Cho Chun-ryong appears to have replaced Paek Se-bong, the ousted chief of the Second Economic Commission in charge of the munitions industry, according to a government official here Thursday.
The National Defense Commission is the North's top governing body consisting of only nine members, including leader Kim Jong-un. But Cho is an almost unknown quantity to outsiders.
"It seems probable that Cho had been a vice chairman of the Second Economic Commission or head of its missiles bureau and worked in the missile development sector for a long time," the official speculated. "The regime may have concealed his identity for security reasons."
At one stage, Paek was rumored to be a son or heir of former leader Kim Jong-il when his identity was an equal mystery.
The Kangdong No. 76 electoral district, where Cho ran for the rubber-stamp parliament, is in Pyongyang's Kangdong District, where the Second Economic Commission has its offices.
Meanwhile, Seoul speculated that the North Korean rubber-stamp parliament approved a budget of US$7.1 billion for this year, up 4.3 percent from $6.76 billion last year. Military spending accounts for $1.07 billion or 15.9 percent.
Deputies over 60 took up a mere 29.2 percent of the new parliament, while those aged 40-59 accounted for 66.9 percent. This represents a massive generational change after Kim Jong-un came to power.