N. Korean leader inspects air force unit

By 정주원
  • Published : Mar 7, 2014 - 10:33
  • Updated : Mar 7, 2014 - 10:33

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has visited an air force unit, the country's state media reported Friday, an inspection trip that also quelled speculation of any change in the political fate of one of his top aides.

Kim was accompanied by nine officials, including Choe Ryong-hae, the director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army, the Korean Central News Agency said in a dispatch.

The dispatch came more than two weeks after the North Korean military's top political officer disappeared from state media reports, putting an end to rampant speculation that he may have been either arrested or taken into custody.

Kim's inspection trips, which are accompanied by top officials, offer a rare glimpse of the rise and fall of his aides.

In 2012, Kim's once-powerful uncle Jang Song-thaek accompanied the leader on 106 occasions, followed in a distant second by Choe with 85.

A year later, Jang accompanied Kim on 52 occasions while Choe accompanied the leader on 153 occasions, according to South Korea's unification ministry which handles inter-Korean affairs.

In December, Jang was executed on charges of treason.

Kim's latest trip came days after the North fired short-range missiles and rockets over the sea off its eastern coast in apparent anger over South Korea-U.S. joint military drills that Pyongyang claims are a rehearsal for an invasion. (Yonhap)