North Korea ceremonial president Choe Ryong Hae

North Korea has elected a new ceremonial president, a month after the election of its official parliament, state media said on Friday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s deputy, Choe Ryong Hae, was elected on Thursday as chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as North Korea is officially known.

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According to a report Friday by the news agency KCNA, Choe replaces Kim Yong Nam, 91, who was long considered the diplomatic face of North Korea, but whose retirement was expected due to his advanced age.

South Korean media have described Choe as a political heavyweight and the number two man in North Korea behind Kim.

KCNA called his selection a “great political event of crucial historical significance.”

The 687 lawmakers in the nominal parliament are elected for a period of five years, while turnout at the polls in March was over 90 per cent.

The parliament is officially North Korea’s highest organ of state but it only meets once or twice a year to rubber-stamp decisions made by the country’s leaders.