Report: North Korean ex-premier returns to power after being demoted to plant manager

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A news report says a former North Korean premier who was apparently sacked for proposing a wage system deemed too similar to U.S.-style capitalism has returned to power after being demoted to being manager of a chemical plant.

Yonhap news agency said Saturday that a North Korean radio report introduced Pak Pong Ju as the first deputy director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party.

Yonhap reported Pak had been chief administrative manager of the Sunchon Vinalon Complex after being fired as premier in April 2007.

Japan's Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported in 2007 that Pak was dismissed because he suggested an incentive-based wage system for workers.

South Korea said it is not unusual for demoted officials in North Korea to return to power.