Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has been promoted to the nation’s top decision-making body, state media reported on Thursday.
The announcement said Kim Yo Jong is now a member of the State Affairs Commission (SAC), the country’s ruling body headed by her brother.
Kim Yo Jong was already one of the country’s most important political figures and a key adviser to her brother, but a seat on the SAC is the highest official position she has held.
Seven others were promoted alongside her as part of a shake-up of the SAC, though Kim Yo Jong was the only woman. Nine members were retired or demoted, including 82-year-old Pak Pong Ju, Kim Jong Un’s economic policymaker for the past decade.
Ri Pyong Chol, the driver of North Korea’s weapons program and top military commander under Kim Jong Un, was demoted. His place was taken by military general Pak Jong Chon, who had been overseeing the development of new weapons for the country.
Earlier this week, Pak supervised a test of what the North claimed was its first hypersonic missile, having potential to be one of the world’s fastest and most accurate weapons, and could be fitted with a nuclear warhead, experts say.
Kim Yo Jong’s elevation to the country’s core committee of decision makers appears to officially cement her role in North Korea’s leadership.
She is believed to be one of her brother’s most powerful and trusted confidantes, but her official status has always been unclear.
Kim Yo Jong was the face of the country’s delegation at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea where she met with South Korean President Moon Jae-In.
She was credited with helping lay the groundwork for the first summit between Moon and her brother, for which she had a seat at the table, and was at Kim Jong Un’s side in Singapore when he met then-US President Donald Trump.
In 2020, South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers she had been put in charge of relations with the South and the United States.