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Aide to N.K. leader sent for 'reeducation' after son watched S. Korean dramas

2016/03/15 15:51

SEOUL, March 15 (Yonhap) -- A close aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un disappeared for several months last year as he received "reeducation" at a rural farm after his eldest son was found to have watched banned South Korean TV dramas, a scholar here claimed Tuesday.

Citing an informed source, Cheong Seong-chang, senior research fellow at the local think tank Sejong Institute, said that Choe Ryong-hae, a secretary of the ruling Workers' Party, accepted reeducation for the "flawed" way he taught his child.

In November, Choe's name was not on the list of those leading the state funeral for Ri Eul-sol, an iconic military commander, sparking speculation that the political heavyweight, who was once dubbed the No. 2 man in the North, was purged.

"After security officers caught his first son watching Korean dramas, Choe conceded that he wrongly educated his son and decided to take responsibility by undergoing ideological reeducation at a collective farm," Cheong said during a meeting with reporters.

"It shows his capability (to handle the crisis). It was apparently a decision to protect his son and show his loyalty (to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un)."

   Choe returned to the public spotlight in January following a three-month hiatus.

Seoul's National Intelligence Service had reported to the National Assembly that Choe was thought to have received re-education as punishment for his mishandling of a newly built hydroelectric power plant project.

Asked to confirm Cheong's claim, Seoul's intelligence officials argued that it is one of the "unconfirmed rumors."

   sshluck@yna.co.kr

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