Kim Jong-un Makes Sister His Chief of Staff

Kim Yeo-jong (center) attends a concert in Pyongyang on March 22, 2014. /Rodong Sinmun Kim Yeo-jong (center) attends a concert in Pyongyang on March 22, 2014. /Rodong Sinmun

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's younger sister Kim Yeo-jong has been his chief of staff since last year, a source said Sunday. The source said Kim Yeo-jong was appointed chief secretary of the Workers Party early last year.

Before Kim Yeo-jong's promotion, the chief secretary was Kim Chang-son, who is now chief of protocol. This is the first time that a member of the Kim family has assumed the post of chief secretary.

The party secretariat is in charge of purchasing and providing daily necessities for the leader and his family and also handles the delivery of official reports from the party, the Cabinet, the powerful National Defense Commission and other key state organizations.

Another source said former leader Kim Jong-il "ordered his chief secretary not to filter the reports being sent up to him, but Kim Jong-un often loses his temper when he gets bad news, so Kim Yeo-jong appears to be selecting which ones are passed on."

Some North Korea experts believe Kim Yeo-jong has now become the most influential member of the Kim family. Her aunt Kim Kyong-hui, widow of former eminence grise Jang Song-taek, became deputy head of the international affairs department and light industry department of the Workers Party in 1976 when she was just 30. It wasn't until she was 41 that Kim Kyong-hui was appointed head of the light industry department.

But Kim Yeo-jong appears to have shot up through the ranks in order to fill the power vacuum after Jang was brutally purged. Word among the North Korean elite is that Kim Jong-un and Kim Yeo-jong are now the sole powers.

Another North Korean source said it is unknown whether Kim Yeo-jong is married, but she is believed to have a boyfriend who appears to be supporting her from behind the scenes.

A government source here declined to confirm the information.

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 31, 2014 09:36 KST

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