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‘Kim Jong-un may be N.K.’s figurehead’

‘Kim Jong-un may be N.K.’s figurehead’

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Published : 2013-12-20 16:32
Updated : 2013-12-20 16:32

Kim Jong-un (Yonhap News)

A South Korean lawmaker on Friday raised the possibility of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un having no real power, saying that prominent military figure Choe Ryong-hae is running things in Pyongyang.

“Most people think that the recent purging of (Kim’s uncle) Jang Song-thaek was an action to consolidate Kim’s power, but I think he has no real authority,” said Rep. Ahn Hong-joon, the chairman of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee.

According to Ahn, Choe, the director of the General Political Bureau of the (North) Korean People’s Army, was the driving force behind the recent purge and execution of Kim’s once-powerful uncle.

“I think Kim is hoisted as a symbolic figure of the Baekdu Bloodline, and Choe is in charge of actual affairs,” the Saenuri lawmaker said. The Baekdu Bloodline refers to the bloodline of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung.

Ahn said the situation in the North is very volatile, and there is still the possibility of a further power struggle within the leaders of the communist nation.

Experts are speculating that within the hermit kingdom a rapid power shift is taking place, underscored by the recent downfall of Jang. Scores of high-ranking officials from Pyongyang, including Jang’s former confidants, have reportedly fled the country and are seeking political asylum in South Korea and China.

(minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)

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