Choe Ryong Hae has lost some of Kim Jong Un’s confidence due to his arrogance as Hwang Byong So advances into the Presidium of the Politburo, a South Korean expert said.
Still, based on his public appearances and mentions, Choe continues to retain some importance in the party, the Sejong Institute’s director of the unification strategy studies program Cheong Seong-chang said in an interview with Voice of America on Monday.
“While Hwang Byong So has a good reputation among the leadership, Choe is known to … have aggravated relations with other elites with his arrogance and blaming others,” Cheong said.
For this reason, Choe has rarely been seen in KJU’s recent public activities despite making numerous appearances with the North Korean leader last year, Cheong said.
Choe, considered North Korea’s second-in-command, and Hwang have been swapping places in regard to leadership rankings. Hwang was mentioned in advance of Choe on official reports, having replaced Choe as the chief of the General Bureau of the Korean People’s Army last April.
However, Choe stepped inside the Presidium of the party Politburo last October. But Choe’s advanced position via-à-vis Hwang didn’t last long, as Choe was seen apparently removed from the Presidium in February, falling behind Hwang in the order of mention in official reports.
Hwang was reported to have become a member of the Presidium earlier this month.
These frequent ups and downs in the leadership show that KJU holds a firm grip over power, Cheong said.
“The frequent changes in rankings among the elite show that the status of the elite, not Kim Jong Un, is unstable,” he said. “Kim Jong Un is making the elite compete for his confidence.”
Cheong said, however, that despite his recent relative decline Choe still retains his importance in the leadership, as he is seen reporting on behalf of the party in many events and being mentioned right after Premiere Pak Pong Ju in terms of the order of appearance in official reports.
Join the influential community of members who rely on NK News original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 337 words of this article.