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N. Korea's No. 2 leader keeps his seat in recent reshuffle, holds key party meeting

Choe Ryong-hae (C, rear), president of the Presidium of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly, presides over a plenary meeting of the rubber-stamp parliament's standing committee at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on Thursday, in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency the next day. (Korean Central News Agency)
Choe Ryong-hae (C, rear), president of the Presidium of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly, presides over a plenary meeting of the rubber-stamp parliament's standing committee at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on Thursday, in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency the next day. (Korean Central News Agency)
North Korea's No. 2 leader Choe Ryong-hae presided over a key Workers' Party meeting, state media said Friday, confirming that he survived a recent reshuffle carried out to sack officials responsible for causing a "crucial case" in the country's fight against the coronavirus.

Choe, president of the presidium of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), convened the 15th plenary meeting of the standing committee at the Mansudae Assembly Hall, the official Korean Central News Agency said Friday.

The report came after leader Kim Jong-un held an extended politburo meeting Tuesday and berated officials handling anti-epidemic measures for neglecting duties and causing "a crucial case of creating a great crisis in ensuring the security of the state and safety of the people."

During the meeting, key party members were recalled and their replacements were elected, including a member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau, but KCNA did not provide details, raising speculation over which members were dismissed.

In Thursday's meeting presided over by Choe, several laws were adopted unanimously, including laws on the metal industry, the chemical industry, the machine industry, the prevention of drug-related crimes and the issue of modification and supplementation of a law on Korean ginseng "insam."

Choe is a member of the politburo's presidium consisting of five people, including leader Kim.

The latest meeting further raises the possibility that Ri Pyong-chol, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party, has been dismissed.

Video footage aired earlier on Korean Central Television showed officials at the politburo meeting voting on personnel issues, with the exception of Ri and Pak Jong-chon, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army.

Ri and Pak did not raise their hands up to vote, in an indication that the top two military officers have been dismissed.

Other presidium members such as Jo Yong-won and Kim Tok-hun are more likely to have kept their positions, as Jo took part in Tuesday's extended politburo meeting to criticize officials and Kim participated in the voting process.

The unification ministry earlier said it could not officially confirm the organizational reshuffle. (Yonhap)

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