Kim Yo Jong recently became a full member of North Korea’s politburo, which suggests that she continues to solidify her position as the country’s “No. 2.”

“Comrade Kim Yo Jong attended the expanded politburo meeting on July 2 as a full member,” a source told Daily NK on July 7. “Although there is currently no way to know exactly when she became a full politburo member, most of the officials in the meeting were aware of this fact at the time [of the meeting].” 

The source further noted that the nameplate on the table in front of her read “Comrade Kim Yo Jong, Member of the Central Committee’s Politburo.” 

On July 3, KCNA reported that the 14th Politburo Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee was held at Central Committee headquarters on July 2. Photographs of the meeting showed Kim sitting second from the right in the front row, looking towards the podium. 

Based on the source’s report, Kim became a full member of the politburo less than three months after an Apr. 11 politburo meeting where she “returned” to her position as an alternate member of the decision-making body. If the source’s information is correct, she would be only the second woman in North Korea to have become a full member of the politburo, after Kim Kyung Hee. 

“The word among cadres is that she became a full member of the politburo due to her work in drumming up hostility against the enemy and issuing harsh statements against them,” the source said. 

Organization and Guidance Department (OGD) head Jo Yong Won was seated to the right of Kim, with the head of the Ministry of State Security (MSS), Jong Kyong-thaek, on her left. 

It is customary for the person who is responsible for items being discussed in the meeting’s agenda to sit at the far right of the front row. This seat was occupied by Jo, and along with the fact that he was seated alongside Kim and Jong Kyong-thaek suggests that Jo may have become a full member of the decision-making body as well. 

According to the source, the politburo meeting discussed the failure of the Ministry of State Security to properly crackdown on “illegal activities” in the Sino-North Korean border region – including smuggling – and that this failure has made it difficult to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“During the meeting, it was mentioned that the disease could flow into the country through illegal border crossings and smuggling activities and that the MSS should take responsibility to prevent this from happening,” the source told Daily NK. 

The source further noted that an order under the name of Kim Jong Un was handed down during the meeting saying that border guards caught involved in illegal activities in the border will face “dishonorable discharges” and that their military units would be “disbanded.” 

Daily NK also understands that an investigation team from the OGD has been sent to the border region to better understand how border guard units are taking measures against the spread of COVID-19.

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Ha Yoon Ah is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to