TIME North Korea

Kim Jong Un Re-Elected Chairman of Defense Body

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiles as he greets commanding officers of the combined units of the Korean People's Army in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang, April 2, 2014.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiles as he greets commanding officers of the combined units of the Korean People's Army in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang, April 2, 2014. KCNA/Reuters

The young North Korean leader is kept in power as the head of the National Defense Commission, the country's top governing body, allowing him to keep his consolidated power following the execution months ago of his powerful uncle and other elites

The leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, was re-elected on Wednesday as head of the country’s top governing organization, consolidating his power after the recent execution of his powerful uncle and various other elites.

The parliament in Pyongyang met to re-confirm Kim’s position as chairman of the National Defense Commission, the New York Times reports. The move is expected to demonstrate his continuing power over the North, despite increased U.N. sanctions.

The meeting was also thought to be a formality allowing Kim Jong Un to put younger, more unquestioning supporters in key government posts left vacant by the leader’s purges. Since gaining power after the death of his father Kim Jong Il in late 2011, Kim has sidelined and executed various elite members of the ruling Workers’ Party. Among them were his uncle Jang Song-thaek, who was executed supposedly because of his position as the second most influential man in North Korea’s capital.

The North’s government-run news agency, the Korean Central News Agency, claimed Kim Jong Un’s re-election to the post was a sign of “the unchanged will of the military and the people to uphold and follow the respected marshal as the only center of solidarity and leadership.”

[NYT]

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