March 28, 2016 11:40
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister Yo-jong appears to have risen to a position of considerable power in the secretive regime.
Kim Yo-jong now holds a key post in the Workers Party's department in charge of promotions and appointments.
A source said Kim Yo-jong's husband is a university professor in Pyongyang and comes from an ordinary background, denying recent rumors that she is married to the son of senior official Choe Ryong-hae.
Kim Yo-jong rose quickly through the party ranks and consolidated her position, thanks to her quick wit and natural political acumen. Since September last year, she has been her brother's de facto secretary, with most documents being submitted for approval by Kim passing through her desk, according to some intelligence sources.
Senior officials like Army politburo chief Hwang Pyong-so now salute her.
"Rumors began spreading late last year that the fastest way of getting Kim Jong-un's attention is to go through Kim Yo-jong," the source said. "She's gaining power by controlling the information and deciding who gets to contact him."
But she apparently won the trust of senior officials by consoling them and offering them advice when they were criticized by her brother. The two of them are seen as a classic good cop/bad cop act.
Kim Yo-jong apparently keeps Kim Jong-un abreast of the activities of his somewhat wayward older brother Jong-chol, who was pushed aside in the power struggle. Jong-chol has since formed a music band and is keeping himself away from politics but still appears worried about his safety.
Former leader Kim Jong-il is believed to have favored Yo-jong for her intelligence and political acumen and reportedly said she could have been his heir if she had been a boy.
But her political ambitions have apparently led to some jealousy in the family. "When Yo-jong was on maternity leave in May last year, Kim Jong-un's wife Ri Sol-ju appointed a close relative of hers, and that frayed their relationship," another source said.
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