Kim Jong-un has promoted his sister into North Korea's top decision-making body after saying his nuclear weapons are a "powerful deterrent" which guarantee the sovereignty of the country.
- Kim Jong-un's sister among new appointments to North Korea's influential politburo
- 28-year-old Kim Yo-jong is already on US blacklists
- Kim Jong-un praises North Korea's nuclear weapons stockpile
During a meeting of the powerful Central Committee of the ruling Worker's Party, state media reported Kim Yo-jong was made an alternate member of the politburo.
Alongside Kim Jong-un himself, the promotion makes the 28-year-old the only other millennial member of the influential body.
Her promotion indicated she had become a replacement for Kim Jong-un's aunt, Kim Kyong-hee, who had been a key decision maker when former leader Kim Jong-il was alive.
"It shows that her portfolio and writ is far more substantive than previously believed and it is a further consolidation of the Kim family's power," Michael Madden, a North Korea expert at Johns Hopkins University, said.
In January, the US Treasury blacklisted Kim Yo-jong along with other North Korean officials over "severe human rights abuses".
Kim Jong-sik and Ri Pyong-chol, two of the three men behind Mr Kim's banned rocket program, were also promoted.
North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong-ho, who named Donald Trump "President Evil" in a bombastic speech to the UN General Assembly last month, was promoted to full vote-carrying member of the politburo.
"Ri can now be safely identified as one of North Korea's top policy makers," Mr Madden said.
"Even if he has informal or off the record meetings, Ri's interlocutors can be assured that whatever proposals they proffer will be taken directly to the top."
Nuclear weapons 'safeguard peace', Kim says
In a speech to the Central Committee at the same meeting, state media said Kim had addressed the "complicated international situation".
The comments were released hours after US President Donald Trump said "only one thing will work" in dealing with a nuclear-armed North Korea.
Mr Trump did not immediately make clear what the "one thing" was.
North Korea's nuclear weapons are a "powerful deterrent firmly safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and north-east Asia," Mr Kim said, referring to the "protracted nuclear threats of the US imperialists".
In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test, and may be fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.
A Russian lawmaker who had just returned from a visit to Pyongyang said on Friday the country was preparing to test-launch such a missile.
Mr Trump has previously said the United States would "totally destroy" North Korea if necessary to protect itself and its allies.
The situation proved that North Korea's policy of "byungjin," meaning the parallel development of nuclear weapons and the economy, was "absolutely right", Mr Kim said in the speech.
Kim family remains a mystery
The Kim family, like much of North Korea, remains a mystery to outsiders.
The country is technically still run by Kim Il-sung, father to Kim Jong-il and grandfather to Kim Jong-un, who is revered as the great leader and holds the position of Eternal Leader.
The family is shrouded in myth and legend and retains its power through propaganda and coercion.
"[Kim Yo-jong has] been recognized for the work she's done in the past year to idolise Kim Jong Un," Yang Moo-jin, a professor at South Korea's University of North Korean Studies, told Bloomberg.
The world's attention turned back onto the family when the leader's half-brother, Kim Jong-nam was assassinated at an airport in Kuala Lumpur.
The eldest son of Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-nam was hidden from public view for years because his father and actress mother were not legally married.
The circumstances of his death still remain unclear, but experts have blamed North Korean agents as he was known for speaking out publicly against the Kim regime.