Top N. Korean leaders to attend Asian Games

Top N. Korean leaders to attend Asian Games
Supporters of South Korea's men's football team cheer before the start of the gold medal match against North Korea at Munhak Stadium during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon October 2, 2014.

SEOUL, Oct 04, 2014 (AFP) - A trio of top North Korean leaders, including the man widely seen as number two to supreme leader Kim Jong-Un, will visit South Korea for Saturday's Asian Games closing ceremony, the South's Unification Ministry announced.

Ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-Cheol identified the three military and party leaders as newly-elected vice chairman of the National Defence Commission Hwang Pyong-So, Choe Ryong-Hae and Kim Yang-Gon.

Lim said the three would meet with the South's Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-Jae, marking the highest-level interaction between the two Koreas for years.

The trip comes at a time when Kim Jong-Un has not been seen in public for a month, fuelling speculation about his health and even triggering unsubstantiated rumours of a coup.

The young leader did not attend a recent meeting of the North's rubber-stamp parliament at which Hwang Pyong-So - seen as second only to Kim in the leadership hierarchy - cemented his position by being appointed a vice-chairman of the powerful NDC which Kim leads.

Hwang is also the political leader of the North Korean military.

Lim said the delegation would fly directly to South Korea, arriving shortly after 10:00 am (0100 GMT).

They will meet the North Korean athletes and coaches participating in the ongoing Asian Games in the port city of Incheon and then attend the closing ceremony in the evening before flying back to Pyongyang, he said.

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