Speculations About Kim Jong-Un’s Top Aide Put To Rest

As Kim Jong-un sentences his top aide to the mines, he proves that even the second most powerful man in North Korea is not safe from his wrath.

Kim Jong-Un

Vice Marshal of North Korea, Choe Ryong Hae is reportedly receiving re-education through hard labor in the mines of South Pyongan Province.

The mystery of where the former “right-hand man” to Kim Jong-un and the second most powerful man in North Korea went seems to be solved. The disappearance of Choe was the subject of speculation for North Koreans and hassparked fears that the supreme leader of North Korea has gone on another purging spree by executing one of his top advisors.

Based on credible reports, Choe was sent to prison on a local mining farm as punishment for mishandling a power station construction project. In addition to Choe’s alleged inaptitude, Kim and Choe have also been reported to have some conflicts of their own. The secretary of the Workers Party of Korea (WPK) is set to receive "ideological re-education" through hard labor.

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Since  Kim Jong-un came into power, his regime has been known as a reign of terror, with many of his closest advisors and even his own uncle, Jang Dong Thaek, purged with the intention of removing disloyal or dangerous elements from his rule. It has been estimated that between 2012 and 2014, Kim has ordered the execution of 68 senior officials.

However, recently, Kim appears to have largely shifted from conducting violent purges to using hard labor as punishment and re-education to discipline officials. Aside from the early years, where purging through execution was a way to get rid of rivals, re-education was generally the method used by the founding rulers of North Korea. Once Kim eliminated the biggest threats to his regime, he switched to milder forms of punishment, but ones that still demonstrate his authority over the elites.

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This is actually the second time that Choe has been removed from the leadership scene.  In spring of 2014, Choe was removed as director of the Korean People’s Army amid allegations of corruption in foreign trading corporations.

Korean news agencies believe that Choe could be re-instated to his previous position. As of now, Hwang Pyong So, North Korea’s top political officer for KPA, is temporarily filling in for Choe.