N.Korean Bigwig Demoted After Long Absence

North Korea's former military politburo chief Choe Ryong-hae has demoted to Workers Party secretary after being abruptly removed from his post as effectively the second-most powerful figure in the regime.

The [North] Korean Central News Agency on Saturday showed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the opening of a youth camp in Wonsan, Kangwon Province and described Choe as a "party secretary."

It was Choe's first public appearance in some 20 days, and he was dressed in civilian clothes rather than military uniform. He was named fourth after Hwang Pyong-so, the obscure official who replaced him, and party secretaries Kim Ki-nam and Choe Tae-bok.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (center) visits a youth camp in Wonsan, Kangwon Province on Saturday along with Choe Ryong-hae (left), in this screen grab from North Korean Central TV. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (center) visits a youth camp in Wonsan, Kangwon Province on Saturday along with Choe Ryong-hae (left), in this screen grab from North Korean Central TV.

One source said Kim Jong-un has become nervous since the purge of former eminence grise Jang Song-taek and demoted Choe for fear of his rising influence and power.

But Choe seems to have escaped with a demotion rather than being brutally executed like Jang, possibly because his father fought alongside nation founder Kim Il-sung against imperial Japan.

He has previously been demoted and then risen again, so it remains to be seen how permanent his demotion is.

englishnews@chosun.com / May 07, 2014 13:26 KST