PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA — Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has been promoted to a senior post in the ruling Workers’ Party (WPK), state-run media reported on Thursday, following rumors earlier this year that claimed she had assumed her brother’s duties during his absence.
Kim Yo Jong, 27, was identified as a vice director of a department within the powerful Central Committee of the Workers’ Party in a dispatch from the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which focused on Kim Jong Un’s recent visit to a cartoon film studio. Kim Yo Jong’s position was revealed in a paragraph listing those who accompanied the Supreme Leader.
The young woman was previously only described as a senior party official in a dispatch from KCNA in March. Some news reports had claimed in early October that Kim Yo Jong was in charge of the country’s day-to-day affairs during the absence of Kim Jong Un, who was out of the public eye for about 40 days due to unspecified health issues, causing him to miss a number of important national events.
Kim Yo Jong, who studied in Switzerland along with her brother in the late 1990s, is now the only other Kim family member to have an official position within the North Korean government, indicating that she may be poised to become an increasingly senior figure.
Kim Jong-un himself was promoted to Supreme Leader in December 2011 to lead the impoverished and secretive country. It came days after his father, Kim Jong-il, died on December 17, 2011, after suffering an “advanced, acute myocardial infarction, complicated with a heart shock,” while on a train for a “field guidance tour.” Analysts have disputed the official version.
Little is known about Kim Jong-un, who was educated in Switzerland and is believed to be in his early 30s, making him the youngest head of state in the world. He reportedly resembles his father the most and had always been his father’s favorite among his brothers, but the sudden death of Kim Jong-il left the North Korean government with little time to prepare him.