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Senior North Korean official reappears, belies reports of another purge

Published on Mar 7, 2014 11:46 AM

SEOUL (REUTERS) - A senior North Korean official, believed to be the number two in the country after leader Kim Jong Un, has reappeared in official television footage, belying reports that he had fallen victim to a fresh purge in the isolated nation.

Mr Choe Ryong Hae was pictured close to Mr Kim in pictures taken in January and February, smiling but sporting a limp. He was seen enthusiastically taking notes on a visit by Mr Kim to various sites and then appeared at a firing drill on a beach.

Mr Choe is the influential head of the political wing of North Korea's military and appears to have risen to become the second most powerful person in the country after the execution of Jang Song Thaek, Mr Kim's uncle, last year.

Speculation in recent weeks that Mr Choe had also been purged triggered a wave of speculation that Mr Kim was intent on shaking up North Korea's elite and that competing factions around the 31-year old leader were a destabilising force in the North.

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