North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister has taken a senior position within the ruling Workers’ Party, according to a report from the state-run KCNA news agency. Kim Yo Jong was previously only believed to have been named as a party official, but was reportedly helping her brother manage the government as well as the military, Reuters reported.
Kim Yo Jong was identified as the “vice department director” of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party, and is the only member of the Kim family to be currently holding an official post in the government, Reuters reported, citing KCNA. Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un and his brother, Kim Jong Chol, were born to Ko Yong Hui, who was the fourth partner of former leader Kim Jong Il. Kim Jong Un, who is part of the third generation of the North's ruling Kim family, also has a half-brother and three half-sisters.
“The possibility [of her taking an active government role] is very likely,” Lim Jae-cheol, a North Korea expert and professor at Korea University in the South Korean capital of Seoul, said, according to the Wall Street Journal, adding that the latest photo released with the report showed Kim Yo Jong taking notes along with other senior officials.
Analysts expect that she could have powers similar to those held by her aunt Kim Kyong Hui, Kim Jong Il’s sister, who handled senior party and military positions, and became a four-star general in 2010. However, the 68-year-old Kim Kyong Hui’s whereabouts remain unknown since her husband Jang Song Thaek was executed last year, on charges including treason, according to Agence France-Presse, in a move that has been seen as a purge by Kim Jong Un to consolidate power.
The first official acknowledgement of Kim Yo Jong's role in government came in March when she accompanied her brother to a polling booth for the election of pre-selected delegates for the country’s parliament. Her name was reportedly listed among those of top officials from the Workers’ Party but did not bear a title at the time, according to the Journal.