January 18, 2021 13:16
North Korea's rubberstamp Supreme People's Assembly on Sunday elected Jo Yong-won to the second most important post in the country.
The new vice chairman of the State Affairs Commission, the top decision-making body, Jo was also recently promoted by two ranks from vice director to chief secretary of the Workers Party’s Organization and Guidance Department.
His star has risen quickly in recent times, and he now seems to have unseated Choe Ryong-hae as effective No. 2 official of the repressive regime, while Choe holds the ceremonial post of president of the parliament.
"Since being appointed vice chairman, Jo has been assigned to representative roles in the party, government and military," a North Korean defector here said. "Choe Ryong-hae ranks higher in terms of seniority, but Jo Yong-won is the No. 2 official in terms of power now he is placed right below Kim in the Workers Party."
Without the military background, Jo was also appointed to the Central Military Commission. A physics graduate of Kim Il-sung University, he is a long-time party member and appears to have gained the North Korean leader's trust in the areas of military affairs and scientific achievements.
According to the Unification Ministry, Jo has accompanied Kim to more inspection trips than any other official. One photo showed Jo with his hand in his pocket talking to Kim during a visit to flood-hit areas in August last year.
He attended a military parade last Thursday in a black leather coat just like Kim's. Only two others wore such coats at the event -- Kim's younger sister Yo-jong and Hyon Song-wol, who is in charge of the North Korean leader's protocol.
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