Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister and adviser of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has recently been promoted to the nation’s top decision-making body, which analysts claim strengthens her political standing in Pyongyang’s power circles.
Kim, according to the state-run media outlet KCNA, has now been named to the State Affairs Commission (SAC), the country’s ruling body led by her brother.
It is a significant escalation from her comparatively junior position as a vice department director in the ruling party. Being the only woman on the panel, Kim Yo Jong’s elevation to the country’s core committee of decision making (SAC) seems to officially strengthen her role in North Korea’s leadership.
In her new appointment, Kim Yo Jong is likely to lead future North Korean delegations in talks with Seoul or Washington, says Kim Yeol Soo, an expert at South Korea”s Korea Institute for Military Affairs.
She also wants to put an end to South Korea criticising the North’s weapons development as an effort to get international acknowledgement as a nuclear power.
Born in 1988, Kim Yo-Jong is the youngest child of North Korea’s second Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il and the younger sister of Kim Jong-un, the current supreme leader and WPK general secretary.
She is speculated to be the possible successor. In 2007, Kim was appointed as a junior cadre in the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), working under her father.
Kim Yo-jong received some publicity during the funeral service for Kim Jong-il in December 2011 as she appeared alongside Kim Jong-un and the leading groups of senior party officials during the final rituals.
She also became the first member of the Kim dynasty to travel to South Korea after the 1950-53 Korean War, attending the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in 2018.
Kim received her first official mention in state media in 2014, when she came along with her brother in voting for the Supreme People’s Assembly. She was named a “senior official” of the WPK Central Committee and was closely watched by the media ever since.
Kim studied with her elder brothers at the Liebefeld-Steinhölzli public school in Bern, Switzerland. Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul mentioned in a statement that there was “no doubt” that Kim Jong Un has an exceptionally close relationship with his sister. He also told AFP how the two siblings spent their lonely childhood together and have developed a sense of comradery on top of sibling affection.
Kim Yo Jong has become the highest-ranked member of the “Paektu bloodline”; Northern term for the siblings’ grandfather Kim Il Sung and his descendants, who have led the country ever since it came into being the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Also, considering North Korea’s social and political structures, it would be “very difficult” for Kim to appoint his sister as his successor, “even though she is a member of the Paektu bloodline” said Park Won-gon, a professor of North Korean studies at Ewha Womans University.
Although Kim Yo Jong was already one of the country’s most important political figures and a key adviser to her brother, a seat on the SAC is the highest official position she has held till now in her political career.