North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un promoted his sister to the country’s politburo, the top decision-making body.
Kim Yo Jong, the youngest daughter of former leader Kim Jong Il, will be replacing her aunt as an alternate member of the Worker’s Party Politburo. As an alternate member, she can take part in discussions but cannot vote. Kim Yo Jong, 28, was described as a senior party official three years ago.
“It shows that her portfolio and writ is far more substantive than previously believed and it is a further consolidation of the Kim family’s power,” said Michael Madden, who is a North Korea expert at Johns Hopkins University’s 38 North website, according to Reuters.
Kim Yo Jong and other top North Korean officials have been blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury Department for “severe human rights abuses.”
She has appeared alongside her brother in public and is believed to be responsible for his image.
“She’s been recognized for the work she’s done in the past year to idolize Kim Jong Un,” Yang Moo-jin, a professor at South Korea’s University of North Korean Studies, told Bloomberg News. “Kim Jong Un is extending his father and grandfather’s practice of empowering family members.”
Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol, who are behind the regime’s rocket launches, were also promoted. North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, was promoted to become a vote-carrying member of the politburo.
State media announced that several other high ranking cadres were promoted to the Central Committee in what the South Korean unification ministry said could be an attempt by North Korea to navigate a way through its increasing isolation, Reuters reported.
“The large-scale personnel reshuffle reflects that Kim Jong Un is taking the current situation seriously, and that he’s looking for a breakthrough by promoting a new generation of politicians,” the ministry said in a statement.
In a meeting on Saturday, Kim Jong Un said that his country’s nuclear weapons were a “powerful deterrent firmly safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia” in response to alleged “protracted nuclear threats of the U.S. imperialists,” reported Fox News.