Kim Yo-jong is often seen at high profile international events and her recent absence suggests she has been removed from the elite ruling committee. Ms Kim joined North Korea’s leadership 2017 as the Kim dynasty consolidated its strength and wanted to demonstrate the reach of its younger generation.
It also made Ms Kim, already a powerful figure as vice director of the party’s “propaganda and agitation” department, the most important woman in the regime.
She became the friendly face of the diplomatic thaw between North and South Korea in January 2018 and was the first member of the ruling family to cross the border since the 1950-53 Korean War when she attended the Korean Winter Olympics.
Her seat in the stands just feet away from US vice-president Mike Pence gave substance to suggestions she had been entrusted to represent the regime at the highest possible level and that view was cemented when she was at the table of the first, historic inter-Korean summit between Kim Jong-un his opposite number Moon Jae-in.
Analysts have warned against over-interpreting her recent lack of visibility and give the example of Choe Ryong Hae, previously seen as Kim’s second-in-command, who was one of the winners of the reshuffle after being catapulted into several powerful positions.
Rüdiger Frank, a professor of East Asian Economy and Society at the University of Vienna, said: “Like Choe Ryong Hae before her. Allegedly Number Two, then allegedly purged, now back.
“We need more evidence than one absence before jumping to conclusions.”
Ms Kim appears to have kept her position in the regime’s propaganda division, and was seen in a photo last week of party members who were newly elected in a March poll.
She is believed to still have an influential role within the regime and enjoy the trust of her older sibling Kim.