SEOUL, Jan. 3 (Yonhap) -- North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho was apparently absent from a photo session of a key ruling party meeting held at the end of last year, an official said Friday, raising speculation that he could have been replaced.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presided over the four-day plenary meeting of the Workers' Party Central Committee through Tuesday and discussed policy directions on key domestic and diplomatic issues. During the event, the North also carried out a major reshuffle of the party leadership.
"Foreign Minister Ri has not been identified in the group photo taken at the end of the event," Kim Eun-han, deputy spokesperson of the unification ministry, told a regular press briefing Friday. "But we need to have a cautious view and take more time to tell whether there was any change in his position."
Ri Su-yong, known as a vice chairman of the central committee, was also not seen in the photo.
Reporting on the results of the party meeting, the North's state media said the vice chairmen of the committee were dismissed or elected, though it did not disclose information on who has been replaced.
Among the four officials who have been newly elected as the vice chairmen were North Korea's Ambassador to Russia Kim Hyoung-jun.
The state-run Institute for National Security Strategy earlier said the ambassador appears to have replaced Ri Su-yong as the party's department director in charge of foreign affairs.
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