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Jong-un promotes sister to centre of power

SEOUL: Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, was made an alternate member of the politburo – the top decision-making body over which her brother presides.
In a speech to a meeting of the powerful Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party on Saturday, a day before US President Donald Trump’s most recent comments, state media said Kim had addressed the “complicated international situation”.
The meeting also handled some personnel changes inside North Korea’s secretive and opaque ruling centre of power, state media said.
Alongside Kim Jong-un himself, the promotion makes Kim Yo-jong the only other millennial member of the influential body.
“It shows that her portfolio and writ is far more substantive than previously believed and it is a further consolidation of the Kim family’s power,” said Michael Madden, a North Korea expert at Johns Hopkins University’s 38 North website.
In January, the US Treasury blacklisted Kim Yo-jong along with other North Korean officials over “severe human rights abuses”.
Kim Jong-sik and Ri Pyong-chol, two of the three men behind Kim’s banned rocket programme, were also promoted.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said his nuclear weapons are a “powerful deterrent” which guarantee North Korea’s sovereignty, state media reported yesterday, hours after US President Donald Trump said “only one thing will work” in dealing with the isolated country.
North Korea’s nuclear weapons are a “powerful deterrent firmly safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia,” Kim said, referring to the “protracted nuclear threats of the US imperialists”.
In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test, and may be fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.
North Korea is preparing to test-launch such a missile, a Russian lawmaker who had just returned from a visit to Pyongyang was quoted as saying on Friday.
Trump has previously said the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary to protect itself and its allies.
The situation proved that North Korea’s policy of byungjin, meaning the parallel development of nuclear weapons and the economy, was “absolutely right”, Kim Jong-un said in the speech.
“The national economy has grown on their strength this year, despite the escalating sanctions,” said Kim, referring to UN Security Council resolutions put in place to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.
North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong-ho, who named Trump “Presi-dent Evil” in a bombastic speech to the UN General Assembly last month, was promoted to full vote-carrying member of the politburo.
“Ri can now be safely identified as one of North Korea’s top policy makers,” said Madden.
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