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N. Korea's Kim Yo-jong rises to leadership, Kim Yong-chol's status falls: Intelligence agency Updated: 2019-06-26 11:21:36 KST

Major personnel reshuffles in the North Korean regime seen through last week's summit between Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping.
Speaking Tuesday to Lee Hye-hoon, the head of the Intelligence Committee at South Korea's National Assembly, officials from Seoul's National Intelligence Service said Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, seems to have risen into the regime's leadership.

"They say that in a photo from the summit, she is standing in the same row as Choe Ryong-hae, President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, and Ri Su-yong, the Vice Chairman of the ruling Workers' Party."

The role that she used to have taking care of protocol is now held by Hyon Song-wol.
Hyon is the leader of the North's Samjiyon Orchestra and a trusted politician as well.
She led working-level talks last year to arrange a concert in Pyeongyang by South Korean artists.
Last week, she was seen aiding North Korea's First Couple.
Meanwhile, the man who used to be the regime's top nuclear negotiator, Kim Yong-chol, seems to have lost some status.
He appeared at the welcoming ceremony but did not take part in the summit talks.
The intelligence agency explained that a greater role is now played by Pyeongyang's foreign ministry, which is leading the regime's external affairs.

The NIS said that in many ways last week's North Korea-China summit was unprecedented.

"When Jiang Zemin or Hu Jintao visited the North, they defined it as an 'official friendly visit.' But this time, they called it a 'state visit' for the first time. The intelligence agency sees this as a way to depict their relations as those between normal states."

Another notable fact, the NIS says, is that President Xi brought along with him some ministerial-level figures to discuss economy and military issues.

"He Lifeng and Zhong Shan both hold posts at the level of minister. In the past, those accompanying the president to North Korea to deal with economic issues served at the level of vice minister."

Xi Jinping's trip was the 7th visit by a Chinese President to North Korea since Pyeongyang and Beijing established bilateral ties.
The NIS noted two firsts for a Chinese leader that Xi Jinping brought his wife with him to the North, and that he wrote an op-ed in a North Korean newspaper before going there.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.

Now, just hours after Lee Hye-hoon's remarks, the chief of parliament's intel committee revised her earlier remarks that the standing of North Korean leader's sister, Kim Yo-jong appears to have been boosted to leadership level.
However, she said, the description of "leadership does not match the reality" in the North, where Kim Jong-un is the sole, supreme ruler.
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