Since Kim Jong-un has come to power Choe Ryong-hae has been his point man for handling various foreign visits such as with China, with Russia, and even attending the Rio Summer Olympics. His loyalty has now been rewarded with a promotion:
Choe Ryong-hae, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling party and known to be one of the closest aides to leader Kim Jong-un, has been picked as a member of the party’s powerful military commission, the North’s state-run media reported Sunday.
Choe, 67, was elected to the Central Military Commission of the North’s Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) during the second plenum of its seventh central committee Saturday in Pyongyang, according to the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Choe is currently one of five standing committee members of WPK’s politburo — which also includes Kim Jong-un, President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly Kim Yong-nam and Hwang Pyong-so, director of the general political bureau of North Korea’s armed forces.
He was once believed to have fallen out of Kim’s favor and punished for mishandling a hydro power plant project in November 2015 but has apparently returned to the party leadership.
The KCNA added that Choe was also appointed a director at the party’s central committee without specifying which division or branch he would head. Saturday’s reshuffle raised the number of Choe’s official roles in the party to eight in total. [Yonhap]
When Choe fell out of favor he was sent for reeducation at the Kim Il Sung Higher Party School. South Korean intelligence predicted this was just a minor setback and he would make a political comeback which ended up being accurate. So why is Choe Ryong-hae so important to Kim Jong-un? There have been reports that his son is married to Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong. If so having Choe as a regime inner circle figure makes sense because the inner circle is traditionally limited mostly to the Kim family.
Speaking of Kim Jong-un’s sister, she received a promotion as well:
In the reshuffle, conducted ahead of the founding anniversary of the party which falls on Oct. 10, Kim’s younger sister, Yo-jong, has also been elected as an alternate member of the WPK central committee’s Political Bureau, according to the report.
Yo-jong, 30, was first elected a member of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the country’s rubber-stamp parliament, in March 2014 and then a member of WPK’s central committee in May last year. She is believed to have been educated in Switzerland along with her brother Kim Jong-un.
All these promotions are showing is that Kim Jong-un is continuing to solidify has political power base with family members he trusts that will stay loyal to him.