Kim Jong Un Consolidates Power, Shuffles Leaders

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As the new president of the Supreme People's Assembly, Choe is technically head of state, although real power in North Korea is wielded by Kim and his immediate family.

Speaking at a plenary session of the central committee of the ruling Workers' party of Korea on Wednesday, Kim did not mention the United States by name or refer to North Korean nuclear weapons, but analysts saw his reference to "hostile forces" as a clear attempt to increase pressure on Washington.

The 687 lawmakers in the nominal parliament are elected for a period of five years, while turnout at the polls in March was over 90 per cent.

Mr Choe, born in 1950, was one of the most powerful officials in North Korea as head of the Workers' Party of Korea Organisation and Guidance Department, and had been director of cultural exchange programmes and vice-chairman at the Kim Il Sung Youth League in the 1980s, leading youth delegations on goodwill visits to China, Russia, Japan, Libya and Greece, according to database North Korea Leadership Watch.

Kim was first elected chairman of this commission in June 2016, when this body was originally created.

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According to ANI news reports, the USA president, flanked by Moon Jae-in, South Korean president and first ladies of both the nations, said, "We have recently completed a new and very, very large trade deal with South Korea and it will very much increase trade both ways".

The three minor opposition parties expressed hope that the summit will reignite dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang while the Bareunmirae Party said it confirmed differences between the allies over how to denuclearize the North and the scope of sanctions relief.

"Kim Jong Un wants to re-brand North Korea as a "normal" socialist country in the world stage", he told AFP. The South Korean president also said military tensions have decreased on the Korean Peninsula since Trump held talks with the North's leader.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, on a mission to Washington on Thursday to kick-start nuclear diplomacy by persuading U.S. President Donald Trump to ease crushing sanctions on North Korea and gain an OK for inter-Korean projects, fell short in talks with Trump.

"I just think that North Korea has potential as great as anything I've ever seen in terms of potential", the president said.

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"We believe that last year's new strategic line, the all-out focus on economic construction, will remain", Baik Tae-hyun, a unification ministry spokesman said.

Kim has continued to highlight his economic push in recent weeks despite the lack of sanctions relief.

Among those reforms were loosening control of state-run enterprises, allowing them to operate more freely in the market and to seek private investment, according to a 2017 profile of Mr Pak in NK News.

Although trade and the role of the huge USA troop presence in South Korea are hot topics, North Korea dominates.

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