Who's Winning N.Korea's Game of Musical Chairs?

  • By Kim Myong-song

    June 03, 2019 12:54

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's latest tour of weapons factories offered a glimpse of who is on the up after a purge of senior officials in the wake of the failed February summit with the U.S.

    Kim was flanked mostly by younger, lower-ranking officials than his usual entourage for these on-the-spot guidance trips. They were Jo Yong-won, a vice minister in the Workers Party’s guidance department, Ryu Jin, a vice minister in the party's arms industry department and Hyon Song-wol, a vice minister of the party's propaganda department. Kim's head of protocol Kim Chang-son also attended.

    But it seems Jo, who handles the promotion and inspections of officials in the party and military, has been Kim’s aide for some time since he often accompanies him on such visits. He accompanied Kim on 17 site inspections so far this year and 52 in 2018.

    Ryu has been a fixture in Kim's visits to missile factories since June of 2016 and during ballistic missile launches.

    Hyon appears to have replaced Kim’s sister Yo-jong, who was told to lie low after the failed summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi.

    Some pundits say Kim seems to be trying to bring about a generational change in the regime. 

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