North Korea's reported appointment of military officer Ri Son-gwon as the head of its state-level committee handling inter-Korean affairs was confirmed on Friday.
The same day, the North's leading newspaper Rodong Sinmun carried a story with confirmation that Ri is the chief of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK).
An Chan-il, a North Korean defector, claimed on Dec. 1 that Ri, a senior colonel of the North Korean military, has been named to lead the committee, citing his source who has recently visited North Korea.
The source met with Ri when attending the funeral of Ryu Mi-yong, chairwoman of the Central Committee of the Chondoist Chongu Party, last month, he added.
"The source said that Ri introduced himself as the head of the committee," said Ahn, the head of the private Seoul-based World Institute for North Korean Studies.
At a parliamentary assembly held in June, North Korea decided to upgrade the CPRK to a state-level organization, which is presumed to be controlled by the newly created state apparatus State Affairs Commission.
Ri served as a director dealing with policy affairs at the now-defunct National Defense Commission, the SAC's predecessor.
He also has attended military talks with South Korea as the head of the North's delegation since 2006. (Yonhap)