North Korea’s powerful Choe Ryong Hae to attend Rio Olympic Games

SEOUL, Aug. 1 (UPI) — North Korea‘s second most powerful politician was dispatched to Brazil ahead of the Rio Olympic Games.

Choe Ryong Hae, vice chairman of North Korea’s Workers’ Party Central Committee, is to be in attendance at the opening ceremony of the summer Olympic games Friday, South Korean news service News 1 reported.

Choe reportedly left North Korea on Saturday, boarding an Air Koryo flight bound for Beijing.

The North Korean politician is the chairman of the national sports guidance committee, a position that was previously filled by Kim Jong Un‘s uncle-in-law Jang Song Taek.

Jang was executed for treason in 2013.

Choe’s movements are of interest to North Korea watchers who have been speculating about possible contacts between Pyongyang and Beijing. A source told Japanese television network NHK Choe is expected to stay in the Chinese capital for about a week before heading to Brazil.

In June, North Korean politician Ri Su Yong met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. At the time, Ri delivered a personal letter from Kim Jong Un expressing the North Korean leader’s wish to “strengthen” relations.

Top diplomats in Pyongyang, including envoys from Cuba, Russia and China, reportedly paid their respects prior to Choe’s North Korea departure .

A South Korean diplomatic source said the Russian and Cuban ambassadors were in attendance because the North Korea plane was planning to refuel in those countries.

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