New Delhi: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has elevated his younger sister to a senior post in the one-party state, according to state media.
Kim Yo-jong became an alternate member of the party’s powerful Politburo, the decision-making body presided over by her brother, the official KCNA news agency said on Sunday.
The promotion was announced along with those for dozens of other top officials at a meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea on Saturday in the capital, Pyongyang.
Kim Yo-jong, according to South Korean media, is 30 years old. After inheriting power from his father in 2011, Kim has given various positions to his younger sister in order to strengthen the position of the family within the country’s leadership.
Both were born to the late former ruler Kim Jong-il and his third partner, former dancer Ko Yong-hui. The family has ruled North Korea since its creation in 1948.
Considered as one of the North Korean leaders “closest aides”, Kim Yo-jong was made deputy director of the Workers’ Party Propaganda and Agitation Department – a position that led the Treasury Department to sanction her by name in January for her role in censoring information in North Korea in 2014.
Her new position indicates she has become a replacement for Kim Jong-un’s aunt, Kim Kyong-hui, who was a key decision maker when former leader Kim Jong-il was alive.
In January, the US Treasury blacklisted Kim Yo-jong along with other North Korean officials over allegations of “severe human rights abuses”.
Since coming to power, Kim has overseen four of the country’s six nuclear tests – most recently in September – while cementing his grip on power through a series of purges.
An uncle, Jang Song-thaek, was executed in 2013 for treason and a half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, was killed by a toxic nerve agent in a Cold War-style assassination at an airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in February.
The Kim family claims its legitimacy through the Baekdu bloodline. Mount Baekdu, which straddles the China-North Korea border, is the highest and most sacred mountain on the Korean peninsula.
It is the place where North Korean founding leader Kim Il Sung fought against Japanese occupation forces, and where his son Kim Jong Il was born.
The so-called “Mount Baekdu bloodline” is used by the Kim family to legitimize its iron-fist rule in North Korea for the past seven decades.