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N.K. first lady, top military, party grandees attend military parade

2018/02/08 20:36

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SEOUL, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) -- A military parade in Pyongyang on Thursday offered a rare glimpse into Kim Jong-un's inner circles in the military and party, with high-ranking officials flanking the North Korean leader on the podium.

Kim, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol-ju, presided over the parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of the North's armed forces at Kim Il-sung Square, one day before the opening ceremony of the Feb. 9-25 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The event was reduced in scale and program compared with last year's, Seoul defense officials said.

Standing next to Kim on the reviewing stand was Kim Jong-gak, the newly appointed chief of the military's powerful General Political Bureau. His appearance right next to the reclusive state's supreme leader underscored his exalted status, observers said.

Kim Jong-gak recently replaced Hwang Pyong-so, who was dismissed during a rare inspection that Seoul intelligence officials presume was triggered by his organization's "impure attitude."

   Ri Myong-su, the chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army, also appeared among the top military brass.

Top political grandees greeted the goose-stepping troops as well. Among them was Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of the North Korean leader. She serves as a key official in the ruling Workers' Party's central committee.

Kim Yong-nam, the president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, and Choe Ryong-hae, a vice chairman of the ruling party's central committee, were also present at the parade.

Kim Yo-jong and Kim Yong-nam will visit the South on Friday for a three-day visit as part of a high-level delegation to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics here.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) and Kim Jong-gak, the director of the North's military's General Political Bureau, salute a military parade in Pyongyang in this photo released by North Korea's state television on Feb. 8, 2018. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) and Kim Jong-gak, the director of the North's military's General Political Bureau, salute a military parade in Pyongyang in this photo released by North Korea's state television on Feb. 8, 2018. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

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