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Kim Yo Jong promoted to higher status in North Korea, lawmaker says

By
Elizabeth Shim
Kim Yo Jong, deputy director of North Korea's Propaganda and Agitation Department, is growing in power, a South Korean lawmaker says. File Photo by Jorge Silva/EPA-EFE
Kim Yo Jong, deputy director of North Korea's Propaganda and Agitation Department, is growing in power, a South Korean lawmaker says. File Photo by Jorge Silva/EPA-EFE

July 8 (UPI) -- The younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could be as powerful as some of Kim's top aides, according to South Korean intelligence.

Kim Yo Jong, who may have kept a low profile following the collapsed U.S.-North Korea summit in Vietnam in February, is becoming more publicly visible following the brief meeting between Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump at the Korean demilitarized zone, Yonhap reported Monday.

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Kim Yo Jong could be a one of the top 10 most powerful people in the secretive regime.

At a memorial for the 25th death anniversary of founder Kim Il Sung on Monday, Kim Yo Jong was among the 10 aides who flanked Kim Jong Un at the event in Pyongyang Gymnasium.

RELATED North Koreans stop activity for Kim Il Sung anniversary

Kim Yo Jong was not seated adjacent to her brother, but about four seats away. Senior North Korean officials Pak Pong Ju, Ri Man Gon and Ri Su Yong were seated closer to the North Korean leader.

Other officials at the event included Choe Ryong Hae, Kim Jae Ryong, Pak Kwang Ho and Kim Pyong Hae.

South Korea's national intelligence service said Kim Yo Jong's status in the regime is growing.

RELATED Seoul denies Japan claim of North Korea sanctions violations

"Judging by the photographs, [Kim Yo Jong] has joined the ranks of Choe Ryong Hae, the standing chair of the Supreme People's Assembly, and Ri Su Yong, the vice chair of the Korean Workers' Party," said South Korean lawmaker Lee Hye-hoon, chair of the National Assembly's intelligence committee.

Lee was relaying information from Seoul's spy agency, according to Yonhap.

Tensions have decreased with North Korea since Trump met with Kim Jong Un at Panmunjom in June.

RELATED South Korean man defects to North Korea, Pyongyang says

Working-level talks between Washington and Pyongyang are being prepared, the State Department said Saturday.

Diplomats of South Korea and the United States are to meet this week in Germany to discuss nuclear negotiations with North Korea, according to South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh.

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