The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a country in East Asia, located in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering South Korea and China. Its capital, Pyongyang, is the country's largest city by both land area and population. It is a single-party state led by the Korean Workers' Party (KWP), and governed by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un since 2012. It has a population of 24,052,231 (UN-assisted DPRK census 2008) made up of Koreans and a smaller Chinese minority. Japan 'opened' Korea in 1876 and annexed it in 1910. The Republic of Korea (ROK) was founded with US support in the south in August 1948 and the Soviet-backed Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the north in September that year.
Kim Jong-un replaces North Korea's commerce minister in latest purge to cement grip on power
North Korea has sacked its commerce minister, according to state-run media yesterday, as its young leader Kim Jong-un apparently seeks to sideline supporters of his once-powerful uncle who was executed last year.
North Korea's radio broadcaster Pyongyang Broadcasting Station said that new Commerce Minister Kim Kyong-nam took part in a food festival marking the birth anniversary of the country's founder Kim Il-sung.
It was the first time that North Korean media introduced him as commerce minister, but it was likely that his predecessor Ri Song-ho was replaced last month in a pre-determined election for the rubber-stamp parliament, Yonhap news agency said.
Kim Kyong-nam was one of the 687 approved candidates elected unopposed in an exercise held every five years that provides a rare glimpse into power shifts within the secretive regime.
Ri, who took office in 2012, failed to get re-elected to the Supreme People's Assembly.
It remains unclear why Ri was replaced but his ousting comes as Pyongyang has reportedly been purging officials linked to Jang Song-thaek, once the North's unofficial number two and Kim's political mentor.
Jang was executed in December on an array of charges including treason and corruption, marking the biggest political upheaval since the young ruler took power after the death of his father and the former leader, Kim Jong-il, in 2011.
Ri is the latest North Korean cabinet member to be sacked since Jang's execution. North Korea reportedly replaced its mining minister and metal industry minister in January.
South Korea's Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said in December that North Korea was purging officials who had been close to Jang.
The purge, however, appeared to be targeting a relatively small circle of officials, Ryoo said, rejecting speculation of a sweeping clear-out of party and military ranks.
Seoul's spy chief also said in December that two of Jang's associates had been executed, while Pyongyang reportedly recalled some diplomats or trade officials overseas who were believed to have been close to Jang.