Kim Jong-un's power seems stable, foreign minister says
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to be in firm control of the communist country despite a recent shakeup of its military power structure, Seoul's foreign minister said Wednesday.
The new leader Kim, who is believed to be in his late 20s, took the helm of North Korea last December following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il. Since then, he appears to have solidified his grip on power, despite persistent concerns over the regime's stability.
"The North's former military chief Ri Yong-ho was suddenly dismissed in July, but Kim handled the case without trouble and was given the title of marshal. That indicates he has seized significant parts of power," Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said during a forum in Seoul.
Ri's dismissal was a surprise move that fueled speculation about a possible power struggle in the communist regime. Dismissing it, however, the North announced its leader had been given the title of marshal, the highest functioning military rank.
Speaking about the North Korean economy, the minister said "it remains to be seen" how Pyongyang will push for possible economic reform.
There have been increasing signs in recent months that North Korea virtually ditched its planned economy system and state rationing to inaugurate freer management policies under the new regime of Kim Jong-un as a way to fix its moribund economy.
Minister Kim also stressed that the door to inter-Korean dialogue still remains open, particularly with the leadership change in Pyongyang, though both sides have not held contact this year. (Yonhap)