SEOUL, June 30 (UPI) — Kim Jong Un‘s powerful younger sister made an appearance at the fourth meeting of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly, raising speculation in Seoul she is a delegate of Pyongyang’s rubber-stamp parliament.
Kim Yo Jong was seen in one of the photographs published in the Thursday issue of the state newspaper Rodong Sinmun, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
In the photo, Kim appeared with her hair tied in the back and dressed in a black suit, while holding up her ballot during the assembly.
Kim Yo Jong was not seated with her brother but about three to four aisles away from the top officials, according to South Korea press.
Believed to be 28, she has been appointed to the central committee of the Korean Workers’ Party and is the deputy director of North Korea‘s propaganda department.
Kim Yo Jong made her political debut in March 2014, when her name was mentioned following the election results of the Supreme People’s Assembly. But at the time she was not one of the 687 delegates on a state-sanctioned list, neither has she made an appearance at previous assemblies in 2014 or 2015.
Kim Keun-sik, a political scientist at Kyungnam University in South Korea, said the younger Kim seems to be making positive strides since the Seventh Party Congress in May, as North Korea continues to defy United Nations Security Council sanctions after the “successful” launch of midrange ballistic missiles.
On Thursday, Pyongyang’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said the Hwasong-10 missiles are game changers, and it is up to the United States and South Korea to “choose wisely.”
North Korea has also warned Washington and Seoul against joint military exercises, but the strongly worded statements are more likely a symptom of a low point in U.S.-North Korea relations.
According to a recent study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Beyond Parallel initiative on Korean unification, between 2005 and 2016 the joint drills were not the cause of negative North Korean behavior.
Rather, the study says, “pre-exercise relations” affect provocations while military exercises have a “null effect.”