Kim Jong-un's sister is being moved to a position of ultimate power that might enable her to displace the country's Supreme Leader, claims Roy Calley, an expert in North Korean affairs. Calley, who frequently visited Pyongyang and penned a book about one of the most secretive countries in the world, told the Daily Express that a recent report by US-based Daily NK, saying that Kim Yo-jong had become a full member of North Korea's politburo is highly significant.
"It's always difficult to know how things work in Pyongyang, but experience suggests that the soft approach from the Supreme Leader no longer has favour", Calley said referring to Kim Yo-jong's recent statement that ruled out a summit between the US and North Korea this year. "Her stance is hard line and you could never imagine her having a cozy chat with Trump", he said.
The expert further noted that the young woman's promotion could be linked to Kim Jong-un's health. "If he is still alive, which I still question - and she is edging closer to ultimate power. These things happen in North Korea for a reason. There is never an accidental way of government", Calley said.
Professor James Hoare, from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, disagrees with Calley and noted it's not unusual in North Korea for an official other than the Supreme Leader to comment on important issues.
"Senior Party and government leaders often do so, while others come from the MFA, Party, or organisational spokesmen. The KCNA [state-run] news agency often carries authorised statements. Under Kim Il-sung, first his brother and later Kim Jong-il often spoke in the leader's name", said James Hoare.
At the same time, Professor Hoare agreed that Kim Jong-un's sister has become increasingly influential in recent months. At the beginning of June, South Korea's leading newspaper reported that Kim Yo-jong was put in charge of relations with Seoul. Several weeks later North Korea escalated tensions with its neighbour – cutting off communication and blowing up an inter-Korean liaison office used as a de-facto embassy.