On Tuesday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that the ruling Workers’ Party in January decided to include a paragraph in the revised rules that mandates that the Central Committee elect the “first secretary — who will be in charge after Mr Kim.”
The agency reported that the position has been carved to lessen Mr Kim’s “burden in managing party affairs.” Interestingly, he held the title of first-secretary from 2012 to 2016.
The second-in-command will be able to preside over “key party meetings on behalf of the leader.”
Sources close to the party said Jo Yong-won, who is a close aide of Mr Kim and a current standing member of the politburo has been elected to the post of the first secretary.
Mr Jo is considered one of Kim's closest aides, was seen by analysts at the time of the January meeting to hold the government's No. 3 position, after Kim and Choe Ryong Hae, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly.
Rachel Minyoung Lee, a fellow with 38 North, a US-based programme that monitors North Korea, told Reuters: “This seems to be the broader trend of North Korea delegating and redistributing some of Kim Jong-un's duties to others, not necessarily his powers, and streamlining the party leadership structure.”
Among other amendments to the party rules, North Korea also dropped the word “songun,” or military-first policy, in the preamble of the revised party rules, local news reported. North Korea also deleted the expression that the party members “must actively fight to speed up the unification of the fatherland” as it elaborated on their duties, signalling a revamp of domestic politics.
Meanwhile, it was claimed by many that Mr Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, was serving as his “de facto second-in-command” but had not been given that title.