North Korea has sacked two top officials, including a once key aide to leader Kim Jong-Il, blaming them for worsening cross-border ties with South Korea, the JoongAng Daily reported on Monday.
Yu Yong-Sun, a 68-year-old Buddhist leader, has replaced Choe Sung-Chol, deputy director of the United Front Department of the North Korean Workers' Party, an influential state organization, the said.
Mr Choe has stepped down because of his failure to accurately assess South Korea's presidential election in December, 2007, and the direction of inter-Korean relations, it said. Choe, once deeply trusted by North leader Kim Jong-Il, played a crucial role in arranging the second inter-Korean summit in 2007, the daily said.
It quoted an unidentified government official as saying Kwon Ho-Ung, the North's chief negotiator for high-level talks with South Korea, also stepped down and has been put under house arrest.
ChosunIlbo reports that Kim Kyong-ok is the newly-named first deputy director of the ruling party's Organization Guidance Department that controls the party, Army and administration, under Kim Jong-il.