Is there a Choe Ryong-hae story?

According to the Chosun Ilbo, North Korean military politburo chief Hwang Pyong-so seems to have replaced Workers Party secretary Choe Ryong-hae as the regime’s No. 2 man, experts believe.

Hwang Pyong-so is a political official who was is belonging to the “Kim Jong-il’s guard”. His family is mainly employed in the OGD department.

A study of the relation between Choe Ryong-hae and Hwang Pyong-so

According to the South Korean News Agency Yonhap « Hwang Pyong-so, vice chairman of North Korea’s National Defense Commission, and Choe Ryong-hae, a secretary of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party (and a former president of the DPRK Football Association) and Kim Yang-gon (secretary of the Unification Front) arrive at the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014.

Hwang Pyong-so and other members of Pyongyang’s inner circle made a surprise trip Saturday to South Korea for the close of the Asian Games, Seoul officials said, a visit that will include the rivals’ highest level face-to-face talks in five years. »

Hwang Pyong So, Choe Ryong Hae
Hwang Pyong-so is circled in red and Choe Ryong-hae is circled in green.

Kim Yang-gon (who is not for the first time in Seoul) is in the center of the below picture

Kim Yang-gon

In march 2014, Hwan Pyong-so was promoted from being a vice director of the Organization and Guidance Department to the first vice director of the country’s powerful Organization and Guidance Department, according to Pyongyang’s state media. The North Korean News Agency KCNA did not directly report the promotion of Hwang Pyong-so. Hwang Pyong-so, born in 1949 and educated at the Kim Il Sung university, is working with Kim Jong Eun since the 2000’s. According to Yonhap, Hwang accompanied last year the leader on 59 occasions.

The appearance of Choe Ryong-hae is a kind of surprise to some North Korean analysts. Up to september 2013, the Kim-Choe partnership had worked well. For the last ten years, Choe Ryong-hae had delivered the support from the army that Kim Jong-eun needed to purge this structure. Kim Jong-eun had also done the maximum to satisfy Choe Ryong-hae’s thirst for power, handling the political bureau of the Korean People’s Army for him and writing him into a high position in the army (Choe was a former 4 stars general).

However Kim Jong Eun didn’t tolerate a Choe cult. It was however brought to Kim Jong Eun that he had let Choe grow too powerful and that this posed a threat to the North Korean leader. It started with a harsh dispute between Kim Jong-eun, Kim Kyung-hee and Choe Ryong -hae. It’s a secret for nobody that Choe Ryong Hae was a lover for Kim Kyung-hee. Therefore the aunt of Kim Jong Eun became a key actor of the Choegate.

Kim Kyung-hee who was not publicly active since autumn 2013 was recently removed from Pyongyang. The next move was toward Choe Ryong-hae.

Therefore Choe Ryong-hae who was a former director of the Political Department of the KPA has been moved to a secretarial position within the Korean Workers’ Party.


Does it mean that Choe has no more influence in the North Korean system?

Choe Ryong-hae was probably demoted for health issues (kidney failure). His family seems to maintain their jobs in Pyongyang. His sons are belonging to the Ponghwajo, a kind of political-businessmen group focused on making foreign currencies. Some newspapers considered that a Choe’s son is married to Kim Yo-yong, the younger sister of Kim Jong-eun. Kang Kyong-sil, the wife of Choe Ryong-hae is also a “trusted” friend of Ri Sol-ju, the wife of Kim Jong-eun.

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