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Kim Yo Jong expected to lead negotiations with S. Korea and US

Kim Yo Jong expected to lead negotiations with S. Korea and US

Posted October. 01, 2021 07:30,   

Updated October. 01, 2021 07:30


Kim Yo Jong, younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the Deputy Department Director of the Workers' Party of Korea, has joined the State Affairs Commission (SAC) of North Korea, the nation's top decision-making body. As Kim has secured her place as second-in-command, she is expected to lead negotiations with South Korea and the U.S. in the future.

According to Rodong Sinmun on Thursday, Kim Yo Jong has been promoted as a member of the SAC at the fifth meeting of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly held on Wednesday at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang. The SAC is North Korea’s top policy organization, overseeing overall state matters, including national projects, the appointment and dismissal of key officials, and the ratification and discarding of major treaties with foreign countries. It consists of about 15 core elite figures, including Kim Jong Un.

Experts believe that her external roles will be further strengthened as Kim Yo Jong has secured her position as second-in-command with the promotion. Earlier in January this year, Kim was removed as a candidate for the Political Bureau of the Central Committee at the eighth Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea. She was also demoted from first vice department director to vice department director. However, the South Korean intelligence authorities said that her status as a person overseeing matters related to South Korea and the U.S. has not changed and that she is practically second-in-command.

As Kim has been promoted to the SAC, North Korea may appoint new figures to be in charge of foreign affairs and strongly pursue the strategy of being close to the South while rejecting the U.S. “Instead of Choe Son Hui who is well-informed about the U.S., Kim Yo Jong who has been deeply involved in North Korea’s policies toward South Korea was promoted to the SAC,” said Jeong Seong-jang, the head of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute. “Kim will be able to deal with South Korea’s Minister of Unification or the U.S.’s Secretary of State as a member of the SAC, which is comparable to a minister.”

Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea Cho Yong Won, who is close to Kim Jong Un, and top military commander Pak Jong Chon have also promoted to the SAC at the Supreme People's Assembly.

Ji-Sun Choi aurinko@donga.com