The Koreas

Kim Jong-un Elevates His Sister to Worker’s Party Politburo

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The Koreas

Kim Jong-un Elevates His Sister to Worker’s Party Politburo

Kim Yo-jong’s responsibilities expand and consolidate the Kim family’s hold over North Korea.

Kim Jong-un Elevates His Sister to Worker’s Party Politburo
Credit: Flickr/ thierry ehrmann

On Sunday, North Korea staged a large rally in its capital, Pyongyang, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Kim Jong-il—father of current Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un—being made the general-secretary of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK).

Kim Jong-un visited the Kumsusan Palace in Pyongyang to pay respects to his father and his grandfather, Kim Il-sung. The three men have been the sole leaders of North Korea, which was founded by Kim Il-sung in 1948.

A range of senior North Korean officials attended the 20th anniversary celebrations in Pyongyang. According to North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, other senior officials, including Kim Yong-nam, Choe Ryong-hae, Pak Pong-ju, and Hwang Pyong-so were present as well.

On Sunday, Kim Jong-un also promoted his sister, Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-il’s youngest child, to the WPK’s politburo. The move consolidates the Kim family’s hold over the regime; Kim Yo-jong replaces her aunt in the position and is frequently seen alongside Kim Jong-un.

Before her promotion to the politburo, Kim Yo-jong played an important role in sustaining the Kim family’s personality cult in the country as the deputy director of the Worker’s Part of Korea’s Propaganda and Agitation Department—a role she has held since at least 2014.

In addition to Kim Yo-jong, Ri Yong-ho, the country’s foreign minister, was also elevated to the politburo. Ri’s promotion comes just weeks after he delivered a rebuttal to U.S. President Donald J. Trump at the United Nations General Assembly’s general debate session, responding to Trump’s threats to “totally destroy” North Korea.

Ri additionally held a press conference in New York City, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, and threatened to shoot down U.S. bombers that flew near North Korea’s air space.

Sunday’s anniversary celebrations will be followed up by another important public holiday in North Korea. On October 10, the WPK will celebrate its 72nd foundation day.

Analysts anticipate that North Korea may carry out another long-range ballistic missile launch in the coming days. It may choose to launch a Hwasong-14 intercontinental-range ballistic missile for the first time since July.

In August and September, North Korea launched its Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan, demonstrating its longest-ever ballistic missile capability into the northern Pacific.

On Sunday, North Korean state media quoted Kim Jong-un as praising his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles as a “powerful deterrent firmly safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia.”