Kim Jong Un consolidates power as North Korea shuffles leadership
SEOUL: North Korea has replaced its long-serving nominal head of state with a close aide to leader Kim Jong Un who was placed on a US sanctions list last year for alleged human rights abuses, state media said Friday.
Kim Yong Nam, who held position for almost 20 years, was replaced by Choe Ryong Hae, who will take over role of representing Pyongyang at international engagements, KCNA said.
Reshuffle, formalised during a session of Pyongyang’s rubber-stamp parliament, Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), comes at a time of heightened diplomatic activity that has seen Kim Jong Un hold landmark summits with the leaders of the US, China and North Korea.
As SPA president, Choe is technically head of state, although real power in North Korea is wielded by Kim and his immediate family.
Analysts say his appointment by Kim suggests a generational shift in the North’s leadership, especially after the collapse of the Hanoi summit in February.