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Despite delegated power, Kim Yo Jong fails to make appearance

Despite delegated power, Kim Yo Jong fails to make appearance

Posted August. 22, 2020 07:49,   

Updated August. 22, 2020 07:56


Kim Yo Jong, the first vice department director of the North Korean Workers’ Party, was claimed by South Korea’s National Intelligence Service to have taken over certain power from her older brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. She has not made public appearance, however, through the North’s media this month. The effective No. 2 person of the Stalinist country has not taken a frontal seat at major meetings of the party, even though she is directing the proceeding of meetings by assisting the North Korean leader behind the scene, sources familiar with North Korea said.

North Korean media outlets stopped short of disclosing whether Kim Yo Jong participated in a Workers’ Party Central Committee politburo meeting on August 13, and the the sixth meeting of the party’s Central Committee on Wednesday. Since Ms. Kim is a nominal candidate member of the politburo, she was widely expected by watchers to make the lists of participants in major meetings, but that expectation has been proven to be inaccurate. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service said in its briefing to the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee on Thursday, “Kim Yo Jong is exercising delegated powers across state administration.”

Certain foreign media outlets have claimed that Ms. Kim might not be making appearance in official events because she has been demoted. “Her absence from meetings this month is not compatible with news reports suggesting that her power has expanded,” said U.S.-based NK News.

An informed source on North Korea in Seoul claimed, “As Kim Yo Jong was fully in charge of the North’s strategy versus South Korea and the U.S., uncertainty in Pyongyang-Washington denuclearization talks and inter-Korean relations has increased.” The source has indicated that the 32-year-old with insufficient experience can continue to implement harsh and impulsive South Korea policy such as the demolition of the Inter-Korean liaison office using explosives in June. Since she has taken full control of inter-Korean affairs amid stalled talks between Washington and Pyongyang and frozen inter-Korean relations, the North’s United Front Department responsible for inter-Korean ties, and the foreign ministry, which would spearhead working-level diplomacy with Washington, have reportedly seen their roles contract.

Oh-Hyuk Kwon hyuk@donga.com