North Korea has sacked Pak Jong-chon, the second most powerful military official after leader Kim Jong-un, North Korean state media reported.
Pak, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party and a secretary of the party’s Central Committee, was replaced by Ri Yong-gil at the committee’s annual meeting last week, the official KCNA news agency said on Sunday.
No reason for the change was given. Pyongyang regularly revamps its leadership and the year-end party gathering has often been used to announce personnel reshuffles and major policy decisions.
State television showed Pak sitting in the front row of the podium with his head down during the meeting while other members raised their hands to vote on personnel issues. His seat was later shown unoccupied.
He was also absent in photos released on Monday by the official KCNA news agency of Kim’s New Year’s Day visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun which houses the bodies of his grandfather and father, unlike in October when Pak accompanied Kim on a trip to the palace to mark a party anniversary.