If confirmed, the banishment of Choe Ryong Hae would be the latest in a series of executions, purges, and dismissals that Un has orchestrated in what analysts say is a strengthening of his grip on power since taking over in late 2011.
The office of lawmaker Shin Kyung-min said the National Intelligence Service disclosed the news in a closed-door briefing for members of the legislature’s intelligence committee.
A memo on the briefing provided by Shin’s office cited the NIS as saying it has information that Choe was sent to the farm for reeducation in early November.
It quoted the NIS as saying that Choe’s demotion was related to the alleged collapse of a water tunnel at a power station.
Seoul spy agency says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un demotes top official, sends him to rural farm: https://t.co/ogl2BJoOA3— The Associated Press (@AP) November 24, 2015
Choe was reportedly responsible for the construction of the power station in North Korea’s northeastern Ryanggang province.
The NIS said Choe and Un were also at odds over youth-related policies, according to Shin’s office.
The memo did not say how the NIS obtained the information.
The NIS said it could not confirm contents of its legislature briefing.
Choe was a rising star after Un inherited power upon the death of his dictator father Kim Jong Il.
He held a series of top posts, including the top political officer in the Korean People’s Army which once made him North Korea’s second most powerful official following the 2013 execution of Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek.
His influence is believed to have diminished in April 2014 when his top army post was found to have been given to Hwang Pyong So, who is now widely considered to be the North’s No. 2 official.
Choe was still considered one of Un’s top aides and held a number of important posts, including member of the powerful Political Bureau of the ruling Worker’s Party and secretary of the party’s Central Committee.
In September, he attended a military parade in Beijing, China, marking the end of the Second World War on behalf of Un.
However, speculation about his fate flared earlier this month after his name was not in a list of top officials forming a funeral committee for a late marshal.