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Media Suspect Kim Jong Un's Sister in Seizing N Korean Leadership

RIA Novosti

19:41 09/10/2014

MOSCOW, October 9 (RIA Novosti) – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been out of the public eye for over a month, and now rumors are brewing that while Kim is recovering, his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, might be running the show, CNN reports.

The North Korean Intellectuals' Solidarity, a Seoul-based advocacy organization, claims Kim Yo Jong could be managing the country, while her brother is absent, Global Post said. The claim has not been confirmed, however.

"She is one of the only people in [North Korea] that we know has unfettered direct access to Kim Jong-un. At the present time I would not be surprised if she is sole gatekeeper", said Michael Madden, who runs the North Korea Leadership Watch blog, as quoted by Global Post.

The young woman was previously seen attending public party meetings. Experts on North Korea say those were efforts to fast-track her into the governing system, CNN informs.

"I can see how it's possible that she's in some sort of temporary position. It's very difficult for the North Korean system to run without one of the Kim family at least titularly in charge. So, if Kim Jong-un is indisposed, she's really the only available body that's left, in terms of a direct Kim family line", said Victoria Cha, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Kim Yo Jong is believed to be around 26 or 27 years old, and like her brother attended a private school in Switzerland. The young woman was supposedly close to her father, and was even appointed to a position of responsibility within the North Korean government after she returned from Switzerland, CNN said.

Kim Jong-un was last seen publically on September 3. Recently, there have been rumors about Kim's health problems, including diabetes, gout, obesity and possible problems with his ankles.

Speculations about the 31-year old North Korean leader will intensify if he does not appear at a key political event this Friday, CBS News reports.

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