North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has delegated more responsibility to his aides, including his sister Kim Yo-jong, according to the South Korean spy agency.
Mr Kim still maintains “absolute authority” but has handed over various policy areas to others to reduce his stress levels, the spy agency said.
Ms. Kim “now directs the general affairs of the state,” added the national intelligence service.
However, the Seoul spy agency has been wrong about North Korea in the past.
The allegations were reportedly made during a closed-door briefing Thursday at the South Korean National Assembly.
Lawmakers then discussed the assessment with reporters.
“Kim Jong-un still maintains his absolute authority, but part of it has been transferred bit by bit,” the agency said.
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Ms. Kim now has responsibility for Pyongyang’s policy towards the United States and South Korea, among other political matters, and is “the number two de facto leader,” he added, while noting that Mr. Kim had “not chosen a successor.”
Mr. Kim’s decision to delegate was in part to “relieve the stress of his rule and avoid guilt in the event of political failure,” he said.
However, some analysts were skeptical of the intelligence, with the NKNews website noting that she appeared to have missed two important meetings this month, leading some observers to speculate that she might have been demoted.
Who is Kim Yo-young?
She is Kim Jong-un’s younger sister and the only one of her siblings considered a close and powerful ally.
Born in 1987, she is four years younger than Mr. Kim. The two lived and studied in Bern, Switzerland, at the same time.
Ms Kim first gained international attention in 2018, when she was the first member of the Kim Dynasty to visit South Korea. She was part of the delegation to the Winter Olympics, where the North and the South competed as a joint team.
She has also worked alongside her brother at international summits, including meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Chinese Xi Jinping, and US President Donald Trump.
There is no doubt that Kim Yo-jong is on the rise.
Some analysts believe that the early-year crisis between North Korea and South Korea, which saw the inter-Korean liaison office in pieces, was fabricated just to give it a major platform.
She released her first public statement in March. It was a scathing verbal attack condemning the South. She later noted that she had received “power authorized by the Supreme Leader, our party and the state.”
She also wrote of the potential for a summit between Kim Jong-un and President Trump later this year, insisting that North Korea did not have “the slightest intention of posing a threat to the states.” United “.
All of this suggests that she may have been given the responsibility of influencing policies towards the United States and South Korea.
Let’s put that on a bit of caution. That does not mean that she will succeed her brother at the helm of North Korea. She is also not the only one to have received additional responsibilities. Other assistants were also given some power.
It should also be noted that the intelligence briefing specifically states that Kim Jong Un remains in general control – he is only delegating. He will always have the last word.
But it’s yet another indication that Kim Yo-jong has gone from hiding behind pillars at public events and carrying ashtrays for his brother to being at the forefront of Korea’s foreign policy. North.
How reliable is the South Korean spy agency?
North Korea is one of the world’s most secret societies.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service may have more intelligence on the North than most other organizations, but it has always had a mixed record.
For example, in 2016, the South Korean media quoted a similar briefing from the spy agency in which it was said that the chief of staff of the North Korean army, Ri Yong-gil, had been executed.
Three months later, the South Korean government said he appeared to be alive because his name was on a list of party officials.
In 2017, the spy agency also admitted to trying to manipulate the outcome of the 2012 presidential election in the South.