Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Kim Yo Jong was excluded from a North Korean list for the ruling Workers' Party Politburo on Monday, prompting speculation in the South the her brother, Kim Jong Un, could be preparing an alternative role for her in the regime.
Pyongyang's state-controlled news agency KCNA reported Monday a new roster for the Politburo, but Kim Yo Jong's name was missing from the list. South Korean news agency Yonhap described the exclusion as a "demotion."
The younger Kim was named a key Politburo member in 2020, and rose to prominence after she issued several messages condemning South Korea and North Korean defectors in the South who launch anti-Pyongyang leaflets.
Kim warned of the impending destruction of the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong. The building was detonated in June.
Kim's name also was not included on a list for the Party's Executive Policy Bureau, according to South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo.
South Korea's spy agency has supported the view Kim is projected to increase in power in the regime, where rule is hereditary and her brother has already purged thousands of officials, according to defectors.
In November Seoul's national intelligence service told a parliamentary intelligence committee Kim Yo Jong is likely to be given a "party position that befits her status" at the Eighth Party Congress, which began last week.
In July, the spy agency had said Kim was "steering overall state affairs," according to Yonhap at the time.
Kim's absence from official lists does not rule out future "promotions." A South Korean government source told the Donga the younger Kim could play a role "behind the scenes" to support her brother.
Kim Jong Un could be trying to prevent perceptions the two people are equal in status, the source said.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui also was not included on a list for the central committee of the Workers' Party on Monday.
Choe has been out of the public eye after rejecting negotiations with the United States in July.