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Reports have emerged today that Kim is handing over crucial elements of his dictatorial power to his sister, Kim Yo-jong. Yo-jong has long been described as Kim’s “alter ego” as far as power is concerned in North Korea. Now, Kim has delegated some of his authority to Yo-jong allowing her to manage South Korea and US affairs, according to The Korea Herald.
The move, the publication says, is in order to alleviate the burden of power on Kim.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) denied that the leader has any health issues to dispel any false reports.
Rep. Ha Tae-kyung, from the main opposition United Future Party in South Korea, told reporters after a closed-door parliamentary briefing with the NIS: “In regards to Kim Jong-un’s circumstances, ‘delegation of power’ was mentioned.
“Kim Jong-un still exerts absolute power, but in comparison to the past, some of the authority has been transferred little by little.”
He added that “high stress levels” stemming from his role in governing the country were one reason behind the power shift.
Another reported reason is so that Kim can deny culpability in the event of policy failure.
The move comes after Sean King, senior vice-president of Park Strategies in New York and an affiliated scholar at University of Notre Dame’s Liu Institute, told Express.co.uk that Kim has no “allies” as North Korea finds itself extremely isolated on the global stage.
He explained: “North Korea doesn’t have any allies.
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“Technically, China is someone that they’re supposed to have to rely on, but they hate each other.
“North Korea is not a communist country, it’s a nationalist xenophobic state that has built itself based on one ‘true’ Korea, and that South Korea doesn’t make its own decisions and is occupied by foreign forces, namely, the US.
“They inherit a Korea nationalist narrative and they remember that Korea was a tributary state for China for hundreds of years and they resent that – but they need each other.
“North Korea’s invasion of South Korea cost China Taiwan, and North Korea doesn’t like China telling it what to do.
“Chinese troops left North Korea by 1958 because Kim Il-sung didn’t want any arms on his soil.
“China wants North Korea to stay around because they know a united Korea means a US all on their border.
“China isn’t really an ally but more like the North’s get out of jail card.”
With Yo-jong now holding authority over diplomatic ties with South Korea and the US, many have noted how she essentially controls the North’s hands as both countries are among the only in constant political talks with the Kim regime.
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Yo-jong appears to have been slowly rising to some degree of power within Kim’s rule for a long time.
In June, she displayed the extent of her power when issuing a statement against South Korea activists who had sent balloons over the border carrying anti-Kim leaflets.
It was here she warned the South Korea government that failure to prevent such future events would wreck an agreement to reduce military tensions.
She soon followed through on her promise and cut the direct telecommunications line that connected Pyongyang and Seoul.
Reports also suggested that Yo-jong ordered the blowing up of a joint liaison office with the South in the border town of Kaesong.
Since representing Kim at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Yo-jong has gone on to acquire a number of prestigious titles within the ruling Workers’ Party
In March, she made her first public statement, condemning the South as a “frightened dog barking” after Seoul protested against a live-fire military exercise by the North.
And, according to Youngshik Bong, a research fellow at Yonsei University’s Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul, the publication of political statements in Yo-jong’s name underlines her central role in the regime.
He explained to The Guardian at the time how “it is revealing that Kim Jong-un permitted her to write and announce a scathing statement about South Korea in such a personal tone.
“He is clearly ready to allow his sister to become his alter ego.”
In April, Yo-jong was reinstated to the party’s powerful politburo – the principal policy making committee of a communist party.
She had been removed from the body after diplomacy between the US and North Korea suffered a setback.
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