The sister and advisor of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been appointed to the country’s highest executive body, the state-run KCNA news agency said on Thursday.
Kim Yo Jong, an advisor very close to her brother, has been promoted to member of the State Affairs Committee, in a series of changes approved by the Supreme People’s Assembly, with parliament serving as a registration chamber of the executive.
No less than nine members of the commission were dismissed from their posts, including a vice-chairman, Pak Pong Ju and diplomat Choe Son Hui, one of the few women to hold a high position in North Korea’s hierarchy, and who played a key role in the negotiations with the United States.
The official Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Thursday published portraits of the eight new members, Kim Yo Jong standing out from the crowd as the only woman and by her youth.
She has often been seen close to her brother, with whom she studied in Switzerland, especially during summits with the then US president. Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Its exact political role has long been the subject of speculation. She is sometimes given as a possible successor to her brother, which would make her the first female leader of this socially conservative country.
She was noticed by surly statements against Washington or Seoul, in particular before the destruction by Pyongyang of the liaison office on the north side of the border, built and funded by the south.
The significance of these statements, however, remained uncertain given her relatively low position as deputy department director in the Workers’ Party Central Committee, and she herself sometimes specified that she was speaking on her own behalf.
The 34-year-old’s official rank has fluctuated over time, but her new post on the State Affairs Commission is by far the most senior.