Aug. 25 (UPI) — Kim Jong Un is not sharing power with sister Kim Yo Jong, and suggestions the North Korean leader is involving his sibling at the highest level of government are an exaggeration, South Korean officials say.
Seoul’s Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said Tuesday during a hearing at the National Assembly he cannot confirm statements from Seoul’s National Intelligence Service, News 1 reported. Last week the spy agency said Kim Jong Un had delegated his responsibilities to top officials, including his sister.
“The defense ministry assesses Kim Jong Un is holding power through the sole leadership system that presides over the party, government and military,” Jeong said, referring to Kim Jong Un’s monopoly over the regime. “[But] I do think he has allocated [some of] the responsibilities to those below.”
South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young said in a separate briefing on Tuesday he does not believe Kim Yo Jong is on equal footing with her brother, Seoul Pyongyang News reported.
“It is unreasonable to say that the first vice president of the North Korean Workers’ Party, Kim Yo Jong, holds the status of a No. 2 in power, or exercising full powers as successor,” Lee said.
Lee did say the government in North Korea could be in a state of transition.
“North Korea is changing from a one-man-centered governance system to party-centered governance,” the South Korean official said. “It is seen as a matter of reinforcing accountability and sharing more specific roles in the military, economy and in North Korea’s South Korea policymaking.”
On Tuesday, Jeong said he did not detect any “unusual trends” in the North Korean military. South Korean troops stand ready for potential provocations, he said.
Jeong also said North Korea retains two kinds of submarines for the launch of ballistic missiles, a Romeo-class weapon and a “new submarine.”
“U.S. and South Korean intelligence authorities are closely watching developments,” he said.