North Korea’s strongman Kim Jong Un has apparently made room for a deputy in the ruling Workers’ Party, according to a source.
The party reinstated the post of first party secretary at its congress in January, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, confirming South Korean media reports.
The party statutes had been amended accordingly, the source said.
The new party secretary could reportedly represent Kim at important party conferences in the future and thus relieve him of the burden of settling party affairs. There are also speculations that the new party secretary would become the second-most important official in the country behind Kim.
Kim heads the party as well as the state and the armed forces of North Korea. His position was cemented at the eighth party congress, when participants conferred him the reinstated title of general secretary. The secretariat system was also restored.
With the new changes, the party’s Central Committee is to elect the first secretary, according to the reports. It was not known whether the post had already been awarded.
According to an earlier report by South Korean news agency Yonhap, citing sources, it appeared that Kim’s confidant Jo Yong Won had been appointed to the post. Jo is a member of the party’s Politburo, considered the country’s highest executive body.
The Unification Ministry in Seoul did not confirm the introduction of the new post or comment on the speculations.
Last August, South Korea’s intelligence service had said that Kim’s influential sister Kim Yo Jong was now apparently the “de facto number two leader” in North Korea. She is now responsible for Pyongyang’s policy towards South Korea and the United States.