Analyst: Top North Korean official was purged over son's TV viewing

Pyongyang’s No. 2 official could have served time for his son’s arrest.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   March 15, 2016 at 11:27 AM
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SEOUL, March 15 (UPI) -- Choe Ryong Hae, one of North Korea's top aides, had been purged because his son broke the law, a South Korean analyst said Tuesday.

Chung Sung-jang, an analyst at South Korea's Sejong Institute, said that he has confirmed through sources that Choe's son was caught watching South Korean television soap operas, a forbidden act, Yonhap reported.

"Choe Ryong Hae's first son was watching a South Korean drama when he was caught by the State Security Department. Choe volunteered himself for revolutionary re-education after the incident, and told Kim Jong Un that he had performed poorly in educating his children," Chung said Tuesday at a forum in Seoul.

Choe, Pyongyang's No. 2 official after the purge of Kim's uncle-in-law Jang Sung Taek in 2013, began to be missing from public life after Nov. 8 when his name was removed from a list of top officials in attendance at a funeral for the Korean People's Army's Ri Ul Sol.

South Korea's National Assembly Intelligence Committee previously has stated Choe was purged for his role in the shoddy construction of a power plant at Mount Paektu, but Chung says the main reason for the purge was family-related.

Choe and his son served time at a collective farm near Pyongyang but was released because he showed an "outstanding ability to show loyalty to the regime and protect his son," Chung said.

Choe has since returned to public life and has accompanied Kim Jong Un to military training events, but has been seen walking with a limp, a symptom indicating that he may have been tortured during his time of imprisonment.

But an unidentified intelligence official told Yonhap Chung's story is just "one of many" and cannot be confirmed.

Chung also said at the forum he had intelligence on a strategic marriage between Kim Jong Un's younger sister Kim Yo Jong and Choe's second son.

The marriage has contributed to the stabilization of the regime, News 1 reported.

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