Kim proved he is still ruling with an iron fist as he dismissed a provincial party chief while visiting areas hit by Typhoon Maysak yesterday. Local official are said to be waiting to be punished for failing to evacuate residents to safety when disaster struck last Thursday. This was only the second time the dictator has been seen in public since he was believed to have been in a coma last month.
But since Kim’s return to to power, his sister Kim Yo Jong has appeared to have vanished from public view after last being pictured on July 27.
This is despite rumours she was on the brink of taking over from her brother after being given more power while he battled his health.
North Korea expert Professor Nam Sung-wook, of Korea University, fears her increasing power may play a factor in her apparent disappearance.
He told The Chosun Ilbo: “In the past, anyone was deprived of their position the moment they were described as the number two person in the North.
“There must be a semblance of checks and balances, although Kim Yo-jong is a family member.”
Leader Kim has previously executed people he sees as a threat – including one family member.
His father’s son-in-law Jang Song-thaek was reportedly set to take over from Kim Jong-il after he died.
But an official statement said he wanted to grab “the supreme power by the most cunning and sinister means”.
READ MORE: Kim Jong-un sacks party chief as North Korea typhoon: ‘Punishment’
But Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, added Kim Yo Jong was proving herself to be “tyrannical than her brother”.
He told the New York Post: “The way for her to build up her credibility and net worth, that is, the way for her to get respect, is not to play nice but be a cruel dictator to her people and a credible nuclear threat to the US.
“She may prove herself fiercer and more tyrannical than her brother, father or grandfather.”
North Korea’s ruling party has called officials whose did not follow orders to be punished after “dozens of casualties” occurred during typhoons, the country’s official party newspaper reported.
North Korea has been putting “practical measures” to help the damage from the tenth typhoon of the season.
This includes informing people of locations of shelters and typhoon paths as well as how to respond and behave, according to KCNA.
The typhoon is expected to hit South Korea’s southern tip today, according to South Korea’s Meteorological Administration.