North Korea appears to have recently reinstated two key officials in charge of economic projects with China, a diplomatic source said Wednesday, in a sign Pyongyang may try to restore business partnership with Beijing following the purge of leader Kim Jong-un's uncle.
Kim Ki-sok and Kim Chol-jin, chief and deputy chief of the North's State Economic Development Commission, had been sacked in connection with the purge and execution of leader's uncle, Jang Song-thaek, in December last year, but have been reinstated after undergoing an "ideology re-education," the source said on the condition of anonymity.
"Kim Ki-sok and Kim Chol-jin were forced to resign from the posts after being involved in the case of Jang Song-thaek, but reinstated as they were considered not so close to Jang," the source said.
After reinstatement, Kim Ki-sok, chief of the North Korean commission, made secret visits last week to Beijing and Shenzhen, southern China, during which he met with Chinese business people, according to the source.
Jang's dramatic downfall marked the biggest political upheaval in North Korea since late 2011, when the North's young leader Kim took power following the death of former leader and his father.
China, North Korea's key ally and economic lifeline, has been in a delicate position because Jang was considered a supporter of Chinese-style reforms to revive the North's moribund economy and had played an important role in dealing with economic projects with Beijing. (Yonhap News)