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N. Korea creates 'first secretary' post in revised party rules

North Korea 14:08 June 01, 2021

SEOUL, June 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea created a new No. 2 position at the ruling Workers' Party right behind leader Kim Jong-un, and a close aide to the leader could have taken up the "first secretary" post, sources said Tuesday.

The position was created as the party held a rare congress in January and revised its rules to include a paragraph that the party's Central Committee should elect the "first secretary," according to the sources. During the same congress, Kim was elected general secretary of the party.

Kim used to hold the "first secretary" title from 2012-2016.

The installation of the No. 2 position appears to be aimed at lessening Kim's burden in managing party affairs. The sources said that the person elected to the position will be able to preside over key party meetings on behalf of the leader.

Previously, only five standing members of the party's politburo, including Kim, were entitled to preside over party meetings. Given that the title carries the word "first," the position appears to carry the No. 2 status in the North.

Jo Yong-won, a close aide to Kim and current standing member of the politburo, appears to have been elected to the post, sources said.

Meanwhile, North Korea dropped the word "songun," or military-first policy, in the preamble of the revised party rules, the sources said. Songun was the main policy that was pursued by Kim Jong-il, the late father of current leader Kim.

The North also deleted the expression that the party members "must actively fight to speed up the unification of the fatherland" as it elaborated on their duties.

Some see the change as suggesting that North Korea has given up its long-held push for the unification of the two Koreas and is now pursuing co-existence of two different states on the Korean Peninsula.

South and North Korea remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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