Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law, Jang Song-thaek (see photo at left), was promoted to vice chief of the National Defense Commission, the most powerful institution in the country. And a premier who apologized for a currency debacle was replaced by in a rare parliamentary session by Choe Yong-rim (right photo).
The political reshuffle also underscored the possibility this may be part of Kim Jong-il’s plan to bequeath power to his son Kim Jong-un.
Kim reportedly told Jang to “help Jong-un,” and Jang reportedly promised to support the son as Kim’s successor. Jang is married to Kim's younger sister and many believe he may lead a collective leadership after Kim's death until the new leader takes over.
The selection of Choe, 81, a longtime political bureaucrat, highlights that Kim is focusing on politics rather than economics, said Koh Yoo-hwan, a North Korea specialist at Dongguk University.