Kim Yojong, Kim Jong-un’s sister and closest aide, might have risen further up the party hierarchy according to her treatment by the state media at her most recent public appearance.
When covering last week’s memorial service for the power siblings’ father, Kim Jong-il, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) named Kim Yo-jong alongside members of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party. She was mentioned with the sitting members and alternate members of the Politburo, the party’s policy-setting body that holds several meetings each year.
Kim Jong Il was seen also standing close to her brother, at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, during the solemn Friday celebration marking 10 years after the death of Kim Jongil. It may have been a sign of a change in power or a promotion to another member of the Politburo according to some North Korean-watchers.
A state media report claims that Kim Yo-jong (North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s powerful sibling) was elevated to a more senior position. pic.twitter.com/R36OLO0Wys
— Journalist Siraj Noorani (@sirajnoorani) December 19, 2021
Kim Jong-un’s sister previously held an alternate Politburo membership, but was demoted in January during a party congress. The Politburo held a meeting in early December to set the agenda for a full Central Committee session later in the month and next year’s party congress.
According to state media, the meeting was the fifth of 2021. It indicates that the party leadership had an unexpected meeting following their September third publicly reported meeting. Some observers suggest that there may have been decisions concerning power rankings made at the meeting.
Another explanation would be that Kim Jong-il’s relative prominence was due to her blood and the family nature of the ceremony rather than her office. The same image also showed the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun with a large number of officials. She was seen standing in the fifth row. This palace in Pyongyang is where Kim Jong-il’s and Kim Il-sung’s bodies are waiting.
This photo shows the Halls at Kumsusan Palace where top brass are entering. Kim Yo-jong is two rows ahead of Kim Yong Cho. Mystery solved. Big brother still hasn’t given his blessing for more upward mobility.#NorthKoreapic.twitter.com/QhhOEeuFPH
— Devi Rhamesz (@ChrliesWarchest) December 18, 2021
“It’s difficult to conclude at this point whether there was a change in her status as she is seen at various positions at major events,” a spokesperson for South Korea’s Ministry of Reunification told a press briefing on Monday, when asked about the images.
The latest official news about Kim Yo-jong’s status came in September, when her promotion to the government’s State Affairs Commission was announced. She is also a member of the Central Committee, and the vice director of the party’s Information and Instruction Department.