Beijing played unwitting role in North Korea's latest political kabuki

Beijing played unwitting role in North Korea's latest political kabuki
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
PHOTO: Reuters

TOKYO - Choe Ryong Hae, a secretary of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party of Korea and the reclusive state's point man on relations with China, has disappeared from the public eye.

Choe was absent from a recent state funeral for a political heavyweight and former comrade of Kim Il Sung, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's late grandfather and the country's founding leader.

Rumours about Choe, widely seen as North Korea's de facto No. 2 or No. 3 figure, being purged have spread around the world.

China played an unwitting though key role in the banishment, a new twist in the behind-the-scenes power struggle underway in North Korea.

The latest political drama involving Choe began when he visited China as Kim Jong Un's special envoy to a massive military parade in Beijing on Sept. 3.

Choe travelled from Pyongyang to Beijing via Shenyang, in the northeastern province of Liaoning. During his one-and-a-half-day stay in China, he exchanged views with two senior Chinese officials on how the two countries could improve their soured relations.

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