North Korea’s army politburo chief Hwang Pyong-so has been absent from recent military events attended by leader Kim Jong-un.
« We’re trying to find out what’s happened, » a government source here said.
Hwang’s name was not mentioned when the official Rodong Sinmun listed the names of senior officials who accompanied Kim when he watched a concert by the North Korean Army band on its 70th anniversary on Tuesday.
He was also missing when Kim watched a military drill and an aerial exercise last Saturday.
Hwang was last seen at a banquet celebrating the North’s recent rocket launch in Pyongyang on Feb. 13.
Pundits say he was likely taken ill. But he could also have fallen victim to ongoing purges that most recently put former Army chief Ri Yong-gil out of action last month. More seriously, this is probably an act of misinformation as the nomination of Ri Myong-su at the head of the North Korean Army.
According to Yonhap News Agency, in 2014 Hwang Pyong-so was promoted from being a vice director of the Organization and Guidance Department to the first vice director of the country’s powerful Organization and Guidance Department, according to Pyongyang’s state media.
Hwang Pyong So, born in 1949 and educated at the Kim Il Sung university, is working with Kim Jong Eun since the 2000’s. According to Yonhap, Hwang accompanied last year Kim Jong-un on 59 occasions in 2014.