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Top aide Choe Ryong Hae reinstated in North Korea

Choe was reinstated in late December after the sudden death of inter-Korea negotiator Kim Yang Gon.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Jan. 15, 2016 at 1:06 PM
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SEOUL, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Workers' Party Secretary Choe Ryong Hae has returned to resume responsibilities in Pyongyang, after going missing for three months.

Choe, one of North Korea's top aides, was reportedly purged in November in connection to graft, and for a power plant malfunction near the symbolic Mount Paektu.

Sources have said Choe was sent away to either a mine or a farm for "ideological re-education," or a sentence of hard labor.

But Choe was reinstated in late December after the sudden death of inter-Korea negotiator Kim Yang Gon.

The North's state-controlled media outlet reported Choe gave a speech during an event Thursday that commemorated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League in Pyongyang, JoongAng Daily reported.

During his speech, Choe urged young North Koreans to "demonstrate their revolutionary will" ahead of the Seventh Party Congress of the Korean Workers' Party in May, South Korean television network SBS reported.

Analysts said it is likely Choe was reinstated in order to take over the role the former Kim played in external and other affairs.

Choe made references to North Korea's recent nuclear test during his speech, telling his audience to "to hold with pride the successful hydrogen bomb test."

Seoul's Defense Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee told reporters Friday that it "appears that Choe Ryong Hae's activities have resumed because North Korea realized he is needed."

Choe was Kim's representative to Beijing during China's Victory Day parade, and was included in a meeting between North Korean and Cuban officials in September.

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