Seoul: Leader Kim Jong-II on Monday attended a rare second annual session of Parliament at which Kim`s brother-in-law was promoted and the country`s Prime Minister was sacked, state media reported.
At Kim`s proposal, Jang Song-Thaek became vice-chairman of the National Defence Commission, the country`s top decision-making body chaired by Kim himself, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
His promotion may suggest that Kim, 68, is moving forward with efforts to transfer power to his third son Jong-Un. Jang is close to Jong-Un and seen as likely to act as "regent" when the youngest son takes the reins.
Kim Yong-II, who is unrelated to the leader, was replaced as premier by Choe Yong-Rim who heads the Pyongyang branch of the ruling communist party.
Jang, the husband of Kim`s sister Kim Kyong-Hui, has assumed an increasingly key role in recent years.
After Kim Jong-II suffered a stroke in August 2008, Jang was said by some analysts to be effectively standing in for the leader.
KCNA in a brief report said legislators discussed the recall of the Prime Minister and his replacement and "organisational matters".
In addition to the premier, it said, three vice-premiers were sacked along with the three ministers in charge of light industry, food supply and physical culture and sports.
New premier Choe gave a speech at a mass rally on May 30, at which up to 100,000 people reportedly denounced South Korea and the United States for blaming Pyongyang for the sinking of one of Seoul`s warships.