North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un has strengthened his hold on the country’s power. This was revealed in the session of the ruling Communist Party here. On the other hand, the indications from this session have triggered a speculation about the political future of Kim’s powerful sister.
Observers have noted that Kim’s sister Kim Yo-jong is not named in the party’s Politburo members list. When news spread about Kim’s illness last year, it was said that Kim Yo-jong would take over in the event of his death. He is considered the second most powerful figure in North Korea anyway. But this time, because of his name not appearing in the Politburo many kinds of speculations are being made. According to some analysts, this is an attempt to reduce Kim Yo-jong’s strength. But many other analysts have said that Kim Jong-un has deliberately distanced her sister from the extreme media limelight so that they can do their work while remaining low-profile.
During the plenary session, Kim promoted his loyal officers to show his hold on power. Most of them are long-serving officers, whose age is above sixty years. Kim’s status has now become similar to that of her grandfather Kim Il Sung. His father also achieved almost the same status. According to North Korean government media, key officials were appointed during the plenary. After looking at the same list, observers in North Korea say that the highest priority was given to personal loyalty.
The foreign, military and economic policy of the country was also approved during the plenary session. North Korea is currently in deep economic crisis. This was accepted by Kim himself in the opening session of the plenary session. Apart from this, there was a challenge before the General Assembly to give a green signal to foreign policy in view of the change of power in America.
Speaking to Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, Professor of North Korean Affairs at Seoul University, Yang Moo-jin said that the new position that Kim has taken for himself only reflects his enhanced status. Till now his post was that of the first secretary. Now he has become the General Secretary of the party. According to Yang, in the early days of his rule, Kim wanted to consolidate his power. Having done this, he has now taken over the post of general secretary, adding to the aura of his predecessors.
They have given the message that now they are ruling on their own. Yang said that the important indication received from Mahadivesh is that the policy of giving priority to military affairs in Rajkaj is now being changed. Instead, the emphasis will be on the party-centric socialist system, so that economic policies can be implemented.
But many other North Korean experts believe that by increasing his post, Kim has also raised expectations about himself. Kim has been in power for nine years. Now, if they fail to deliver in terms of other challenges, including economic difficulties, and North Korea’s tension with the US over the nuclear issue, it will be difficult for Kim to maintain power.