Kim Jong Un's sister gets a top job
Steph Deschamps / September 30, 2021
Kim Yo Jong, a close advisor to her brother, was promoted to a member of the State Affairs Commission in a series of changes approved by the Supreme People's Assembly, the parliament that serves as the executive branch's rubber stamp.
No fewer than nine members of the commission were removed, including a vice chairman, Pak Pong Ju, and diplomat Choe Son Hui, one of the few women to hold a senior position in North Korea's hierarchy, who played a key role in negotiations with the United States.
The official newspaper Rodong Sinmun published portraits of the eight new members on Thursday, with Kim Yo Jong standing out as the only woman and because of her youth.
She was often seen close to her brother, with whom she attended school in Switzerland, including during summits with then-U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Her 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 has been known to make angry statements against Washington or Seoul, especially in the run-up to Pyongyang's destruction of the liaison office on the northern side of the border, built and financed by the South.
The significance of these statements, however, remained unclear given her relatively low position as a deputy department head in the Central Committee of the Workers' Party, 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 position on the State Affairs Commission is by far the highest.