North Korea has revealed that leader Kim Jong-un’s younger sister is a senior official in the ruling Workers’ Party.
The news has strengthened analysts’ views that she is an increasingly important part of the country’s ruling family dynasty.
State media in North Korea yesterday referred to Kim Yo-jong, who is in her late 20s, as a departmental vice director within the party’s central committee.
Analysts said the mention could signal her growing role in supporting her brother’s authoritarian rule.
The siblings’ late father, former leader Kim Jong-il, was seen as relying on his own sister during his 17-year rule.
Outsiders closely study the dynamics of North Korea’s ruling powers for information about the secretive country that is pursuing a nuclear programme and threatens its neighbours with war.
The Korean Central News Agency first referred to Ms Kim as a senior official in the central committee in March.
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Yang Moo-jin, a North Korea expert at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said a departmental vice director is roughly equivalent to a deputy cabinet minister.
The announcement of Ms Kim’s role shows the government is confident enough to introduce her as an important part of its leadership, according to the expert.
Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at South Korea’s private Sejong Institute, said Ms Kim is likely to have greater influence than other departmental vice directors because she is a member of the Kim family.
Ms Kim is further strengthening her brother’s control of North Korea’s power elite, the analyst said.
Since taking over North Korea’s leadership following the death of his father in 2011, Mr Kim has removed key members of the old guard. The process was highlighted by the 2013 execution of his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, the husband of Kim Jong -il’s influential sister. Jang, who was once considered the second most powerful man in North Korea, was accused of treason.
Mr Kim’s most influential advisers now appear to be Choe Ryong Hae, the secretary of the party’s central committee who recently visited Russia as a special envoy, and Hwang Pyong So, vice marshal of the Korean People’s Army.
Mr Kim, 31, is the third generation of the Kim family to rule North Korea. His aunt also had a prominent role in the party but disappeared after her husband was executed for treason.
Ms Kim was first seen publically at the funeral of Kim Jong-il, in 2011.
Since then she has been seen in political events and “field guidance trips” accompanying her brother.
The siblings are believed to have gone to the same boarding school in Switzerland as their older brother Kim Jong-chol, who does not have a defined role in the government
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