Published: Jun 07, 2010 11:05 AM EDT
Updated: Jun 07, 2010 8:06 AM EDT

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Il

attended a rare second parliamentary session of the year Monday

that involved a major leadership reshuffle that included the post

of premier and a key defense position, state-run media reported.

The changes, which weren't explained, came amid worsening

economic woes, pressing succession issues and rising tensions over

the sinking of a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors.

The new premier was Choe Yong Rim, a parliament member who

replaces Kim Yong Il, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News

Agency reported.

Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law, Jang Song Thaek, was promoted to

vice chairman of the all-powerful National Defense Commission,

which makes security policy. Jang is widely believed to be a key

backer of the North Korean leader's third son, Jong Un, who several

analysts think will be his father's successor.

The reshuffle also included the appointment of six new vice

premiers along with Cabinet ministers responsible for light

industry, sports and foods and daily necessities.

The rubber-stamp parliament, or the Supreme People's Assembly,

usually meets one day each year to approve bills vetted by the

ruling Workers' Party. The body met last April to discuss economic

development, and no reason was given for holding Monday's unusual

second session.