August 27, 2020 12:44
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's younger sister Yo-jong has not been seen in public for about a month.
Last week the National Intelligence Service told the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee that Kim senior has handed over some of his powers to his sister.
Kim Yo-jong was last seen in public on July 27, when she stood beside Kim senior as he handed commemorative pistols to military leaders on the 67th anniversary of the armistice of the Korean War.
She had been aggressively visible since March, when she launched a vociferous anti-South Korean campaign that culminated in the blowing up of the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong in June.
On Wednesday, the official [North] Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim Jong-un discussed a response to typhoon Bavi and the spread of coronavirus in a Politburo meeting the previous day.
It was attended by most senior members of the Workers Party but not his sister, who is a "candidate" member of the Politburo. She had been seen at every previous occasion, where she religiously took notes of what her brother was saying.
Experts believe that she is keeping out of the public eye for fear of outside speculation about her status in the regime. "In the past, anyone was deprived of their position the moment they were described as the No. 2 person in the North," Prof. Nam Sung-wook of Korea University said. "There must be a semblance of checks and balances, although Kim Yo-jong is a family member."
CNN on Wednesday reported that her absence "is unusual, but could be explained by mundane reasons like illness or having other business to attend to."
Meanwhile, Kim Jong-un's wife, Ri Sol-ju, has also been not been seen in public since late January, when she watched a performance to celebrate the Lunar New Year's Day with her husband, stoking speculation that she has had another child.
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