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
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