North Korea Purge: Who is the New No.2 Man after Kim Jong-un?

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By Gopi Chandra Kharel | December 18, 2013 8:13 PM EST

After North Korea's dramatic execution of Chang Song-theak, the second most powerful person after the supreme leader, Kim Jong-un; many analysts feared that this could be a start of Kim's new strategy to consolidate all powers to himself and that there could be a vacuum in place of the isolated nation's much desired No. 2 man.

Reports suggest that although the real motive of the theatrical execution of Kim's uncle last week is still unknown, the young leader has picked a new leader in place of the purged uncle, who was killed last week.

Choe Ryong-hae, a former provincial chief of the ruling Workers' Party, appears to have secured the prestigious position deemed as the second most powerful in the isolated communist country. Choe was in fact the man Kim's late father, Kim Jong-il had handpicked for assisting the then successor Kim Jong-un, people with knowledge of North Korea's inner circle told the South Korean Yonhap News agency .

Choe was seen sitting next to Kim Jong-un on Tuesday during the ceremony marking the death anniversary of Kim Jong-il, a rare glimpse that has lately become the only means to surmise how the power structure is changing in the reclusive nuclear-armed nation.

The 30-year-old junior Kim took over the power after his father's sudden death in 2011, which made him the sole proprietor of the devilish North Korean power showmanship that has always kept the world on their toes.  

Before his death, Kim Jong-il had told his son to "rely on Choe Ryong-hae" while holding the hands of both men, the sources told the news agency, without elaborating much on the details of the meeting.

Choe, also known as the Vice Marshal is currently in charge of North's monstrous 1.2 million soldiers, the essential and perhaps the only bargaining chip of North Korea, which Kim often uses to scare the world off.

Choe is one of the four members of the decisions-making Politburo Presidium of the Central Committee Worker's Party of Korea and vice-chairman of the party's Central Military Commission.

On Monday, thousands of North Korean strong-military troops pledged to "become human bullets and bombs" while Choe in a massive rally that was staged to reaffirm his loyalty to the regime, promised to track down and kill everyone who doesn't follow Kim's leadership and supreme command. The use of hyperbole and unrealistic flamboyance in the unusually dramatic rhetoric of North Korea's statements has, in more than in few occasions, dazzled outsiders.

After Chang Song-theak's execution last week, the state-run KCNA news agency called the man "despicable human scum", "worse than a dog" and condemned him with other dizzying terms such as "an anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional element and despicable political careerist and trickster". 

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