Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un's powerful younger sister made a rare appearance in public, and her rising status in North Korea was made known as she took one of the front-row seats at the fifth conference of Workers' Party cell chairs.
Kim Yo Jong, believed to be in her late 20s, was seen seated with top officials Choe Ryong Hae, Oh Su Yong and Pak Tae Song, in photos that ran in the Friday issue of Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun.
The young woman, who has previously been seen by her brother's side, was also seated fifth from the right of the leader.
The North Korean photographs show Kim Yo Jong has been gaining in influence.
In previous images released by Pyongyang media, the younger Kim is seen seated in the audience, or seated a row or two behind the leader at major events.
In a statement accompanying the article, the Rodong said Kim Jong Un came to "direct" the fifth conference of the Party cell chairs and chairs "took the rostrum."
Kim Yo Jong, who was flanked by elderly North Korean officials on both sides, appeared to be the only woman on the platform and may have earned the position only 17 months after being elected to the central committee of the ruling party.
South Korean television network KBS reported Seoul's unification ministry is closely watching current trends, and "surmises a woman who has been identified as Kim Yo Jong" has taken on a leadership position.
Party cell chairs previously condemned heavy international sanctions against the country.
More embargoes are expected to be announced Friday at the United Nations Security Council, according to reports.