North Korea has sacked its commerce minister, according to state-run media, as its young leader Kim Jong-Un apparently seeks to sideline supporters of his once-powerful uncle who was executed last year.
North Korea’s radio broadcaster Pyongyang Broadcasting Station said that new Commerce Minister Kim Kyong-Nam took part in a food festival marking the birth anniversary of the country’s founder Kim Il-Sung. It was the first time that North Korean media introduced him as commerce minister, but it was likely that his predecessor Ri Song-Ho was replaced last month.
It remains unclear why Ri was replaced but his ouster comes as Pyongyang has reportedly been purging officials linked to Jang Song-Thaek, once the North’s unofficial number two and Kim’s political mentor. Ri is the latest North Korean cabinet member to be sacked since Jang’s execution. North Korea reportedly replaced its mining minister and metal industry minister in January.
Jang was executed in December on an array of charges including treason and corruption, marking the biggest political upheaval since the young ruler took power after the death of his father and the former leader, Kim Jong-il, in 2011.