Kim Jong Un has delegated part of his authority to his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, to help him cope with his mounting stress in leading North Korea, according to South Korea’s spy agency.
The despot’s sister now serves as his “de facto second-in-command,” though she has not been designated his successor, the National Intelligence Service said.
“Kim Yo Jong, the first vice department director of the Workers’ Party Central Committee, is steering overall state affairs based on the delegation,” the agency was quoted as saying in a closed-door briefing to South Korean lawmakers, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
The power shift partly seeks to “relieve (Kim’s) stress from his reign and avert culpability in the event of policy failure,” the intelligence agency said.
“Chairman Kim Jong Un is still maintaining his absolute authority, but some of it has been handed over little by little,” it said, adding that his sister is not the only one who shares power with him.
Pak Pong Ju, vice chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and the new premier, Kim Tok Hun, have assumed power in controlling the economic sector, the agency added, Yonhap reported.
Kim Yo Jong gained widespread recognition ahead of her brother’s 2019 summit with President Trump in Vietnam, when her efforts to ensure everything went well included holding an ashtray for her sibling at a train station during his journey, Reuters reported.
In July, she offered personal views on diplomacy with Washington in an unusual statement in state media, saying her brother had given her special permission to watch recordings of Independence Day celebrations in the US.
When speculation arose in April about Kim Jong Un’s health, his sister was considered a possible replacement to take over the family dynasty until one of the despot’s children is old enough.
But Kim Yo Jong has been absent from several recent high-level meetings, including a gathering of the ruling Workers’ Party on Wednesday, according to NK News, a Seoul-based website that tracks North Korea.
During the session Wednesday, Kim Jong Un admitted that US-led sanctions, the coronavirus pandemic and devastating floods have hurt his country’s battered economy.
His ruling party scheduled a rare congress in January to set development goals for the next five years.
With Post wires