SEOUL, January 11. /TASS/. The absence of Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, from the list of party leaders at the congress in Pyongyang may be a result of rumors about the North Korean leader’s health and speculations concerning his likely successor, Professor Andrei Lankov, of South Korea’s Kookmin University, has told TASS.
He suspects that speculations about Kim Yo-jong as North Korea’s likely future leader might have become one of the reasons for her sudden ejection from the circle of the country’s high-ranking officials.
On the other hand, said Lankov, a member of the international discussion club Valdai, "the career of any senior official under Kim Jong-un’s rule looks like a rollercoaster ride and in this respect Kim Yo-jong is not an exception."
He said that Kim Yo-jong over the past two years was several times included in the Politburo of the Workers Party of Korea and excluded from it to drop out of sight for sometime only to surface again and behave like a country’s real ruler.
"For this reason, her official absence from the leadership bodies does not mean that in several months’ or years’ time she will not remerge in the limelight in the capacity of a senior or top official in the country’s hierarchy," Lankov said.
He stressed that demotions and promotions of North Korean officials were a distinguishing feature of North Korean home politics under Kim Jong-un. For instance, the first deputy chairman of the DPRK’s State Council, President of the Presidium of the of the Supreme People’s Assembly, Choe Ryong-hae, who had been considered as number two in the North Korean political establishment, several years ago was promoted and demoted several times, each time appearing in public with more or fewer stars on the shoulder loops.
"Such demotions and subsequent rehabilitations are Kim Jong-un’s unique way of treating members of his entourage. It has no parallels in North Korea’s history," Lankov said.
"This means that at this particular moment, the beginning of January 2021, Kim Jong-un may be angry about his sister and wants to keep her away from power, possibly, forever. But, given his character and style, this does not mean that in April or May he will not suddenly decide that his sister is the most reliable friend and adviser and restore her previous status," Lankov said.
Kim Yo-jong’s absence
The Korean Central News Agency on Monday said the 8th Congress of the Workers’ party of Korea in Pyongyang unanimously voted to re-elect Kim Jong-un as the WPK’s general secretary. The KCNA said the decision was a "a manifestation of the common will and wish of all members of the party, the people and the Korean People’s Army to achieve the development of the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist party and more victories of the revolutionary Juche ideas."
At the same time the name of Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un’s younger sister, who had held the post of a candidate member of the WPK Central Committee’s Politburo, was absent from the list of party officials, which sparked speculations among experts on North Korean affairs.