Kim Jong-un’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, has vanished from public view in what could be another sign that she’s taken more control in the regime, an expert said.
The North Korean despot’s sister, who has not been spotted since July 27, may be lying low to offset speculation that he ceded some of his authority to her, the South Korean outlet Chosun Ilbo reported.
Her absence comes as South Korean spies revealed that she now serves as his “de facto second-in-command,” though she has not been designated his successor.
“In the past, anyone was deprived of their position the moment they were described as the No. 2 person in the North,” Korea University Professor Nam Sung-wook told the newspaper.
“There must be a semblance of checks and balances, although Kim Yo Jong is a family member.”
Last week, at a National Intelligence Service briefing in South Korea, United Future Party politician Ha Tae-keung said Kim Yo Jong was “virtually” second-in command.
“Although she has not been hand-picked as his successor, Kim Yo Jong is virtually North Korea’s second-in-command,” he told reporters.
“Kim Jong-un still wields absolute power.”
She was last seen when she stood beside the Hermit Kingdom honcho last month as he gave commemorative pistols to military leaders on the 67th anniversary of the Korean War armistice.
But she didn’t appear in state-sanctioned photos released Tuesday of Kim at a high-level meeting to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for a typhoon.
The photos emerged after a former South Korean official claimed the dictator had fallen into a coma.
His sister has also been a no-show at other meetings this summer, though she is now an alternate member of the Politburo, the senior body of North Korea’s ruling party, CNN reported.
Experts have said these absences are unusual, but could be explained by her attending to other business, the outlet reported.
This article originally appeared on the New York Postand has been republished here with permission.