The announcement – published in North Korean state media KCNA – says Kim Yo Jong is now a member of the State Affairs Commission (SAC), the country’s ruling body headed by his brother.
Kim Yo Jong was already one of the country’s most important political figures and a key adviser to her brother, but a SAC seat is the highest official post she has held.
Seven other people have been promoted alongside him as part of a SAC reshuffle, though Kim Yo Jong is the only woman. Nine members have been retired or demoted, including Pak Pong Ju, 82, who is responsible for Kim Jong Un’s economic policy over the past decade.
Ri Pyong Chol, the pilot of North Korea’s weapons program and senior military commander under Kim Jong Un, has been demoted. Its place was taken by Military General Pak Jong Chon, who oversaw the development of new weapons for the country.
Earlier this week, Pak oversaw a test of what the North claimed to be its first hypersonic missile, which – if true – has the potential to be one of the fastest and most accurate weapons in the world. , and could be fitted with a nuclear warhead, experts say.
Why is Kim Yo Jong’s promotion important?
Kim Yo Jong’s rise to the country’s central decision-making committee appears to formally cement his role in North Korea’s leadership.
She is considered one of her brother’s most powerful and trusted confidants. Last year, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service assessed her as the country’s “de facto second in command”, but her official status has always been unclear.
As North Korea’s chief propagandist, Kim Yo Jong was the face of the country’s delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where she met South Korean President Moon Jae -In. She was credited with helping lay the groundwork for the first summit between Moon and her brother, for which she had a seat at the table, and was alongside Kim Jong Un in Singapore when he met with the US President of then, Donald Trump.
In 2020, the South Korean spy agency told lawmakers it had been tasked with relations with the South and the United States.
Most recently, as the deputy head of the department of the Workers’ Party of Korea Central Committee, she made scathing public statements about inter-Korean relations, the new Biden administration, and defended the North Korean missile fire.
Kim Yo Jong last week called on the South to make “the right choice” if it really wants reconciliation and the development of inter-Korean relations, including another summit. She also warned the United States and South Korea to end their “hostile” policies against North Korea, before talks could resume on a proposal by the South Korean president to declare the end of the war. war between North and South.
But Kim Yo Jong’s ascent to the top has not been smooth.
Earlier this year, she was removed from her post as an alternate member of the powerful North Korean political bureau and demoted from “first deputy head of department” to “deputy head of department.”
Analysts at the time said his apparent demotion may have more to do with Kim Jong Un’s emphasis on reshuffling the politburo to include more economic experts. Others have speculated that she may have taken the heat for her handling of inter-Korean relations last summer, when she ordered the North Korean armed forces to blow up a joint liaison office of 8. million dollars in Kaesong City to express Pyongyang’s dissatisfaction with Seoul.
CNN’s Joshua Berlinger contributed reporting.