North Korea’s Choe Ryong Hae replaced, report says

North Korean politician Choe Ryong Hae is no longer chairman of Pyongyang’s National Sports Guidance Committee. Choe Hwi has assumed the role that entails travel with national sports teams overseas, state media reported. File Photo by KCNA

Dec. 20 (UPI) — One of North Korea‘s most powerful politicians has left his post with Pyongyang’s National Sports Guidance Committee, state media reported.

Choe Ryong Hae, who may have become North Korea’s second most powerful man after Kim Jong Un following the reported purge of Gen. Hwang Pyong So, has left his position as the chair of the national sports committee, Yonhap reported Tuesday.

It is unclear whether Choe Ryong Hae will be delegated other responsibilities, including those previously assigned to Hwang.

Choe Hwi, a relatively unknown politician, has replaced Choe Ryong Hae on the sports committee and will also assume the position of vice chairman of the Korean Workers’ Party, Pyongyang’s news agency, KCNA, reported.

Both roles until recently belonged to Choe Ryong Hae.

North Korea has yet to agree to send its athletes to compete at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, but if Kim consents, Choe Hwi, and not Choe Ryong Hae, is expected to accompany North Korean sports teams to the South.

It is unclear whether the reshuffling of politicians means North Korea is closer to a decision on the Olympics and participation in the Winter Games.

Choe Hwi’s appointment came to light in a report from KCNA covering North Korea’s victory at the E-1 Football Championship last week, where North Koreans scored a 2-0 win over Japan.

“Comrade Choe Hwi, the chairman of the National Sports Guidance Committee and vice chairman of the Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee, along with Comrade Ri Ryong Nam, and Comrade Kim Il Kuk, met the women’s football team and coach at Pyongyang International Airport,” KCNA stated.

Hwang’s purge was first revealed by Seoul’s National Intelligence Service in December, and could have been the result of a power struggle between Hwang and Choe Ryong Hae, Newsweek reported.

Choe Ryong Hae accompanied North Korean athletes to the Rio Olympics in 2016 and to the Asian Games in South Korea in 2014.


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