North Korea president Kim Jong Un's younger sister given senior party title

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea revealed on Thursday the official title of President Kim Jong Un's younger sister, who is widely tipped to become a close and influential aide to the young leader.

Kim Yo Jong, believed to be 26, made her first public appearance during the funeral of her father and long-time ruler Kim Jong Il in December 2011.

Since then, she has occasionally been seen accompanying her brother to political events and on his "field guidance trips," but without any specific title attached to her name.

That changed on Thursday when the North's official KCNA news agency listed her as a "vice department director" in the central committee of the ruling Workers' Party.

She was accompanying her brother on a trip to a cartoon film studio founded by their grandfather and the North's founding president Kim Il Sung.

During the visit, Kim Jong Un urged animators to produce works that are "true to the intention of the party."

The Kim family has ruled the reclusive, impoverished state for more than six decades with an iron fist and a pervasive personality cult.

North Korean watchers have speculated that Kim Yo Jong may end up playing the same leadership supporting role as her powerful aunt, Kim Kyong Hui.

Kim Kyong Hui, 68, was a close aide to her own brother and late leader Kim Jong Il for decades, assuming senior positions in the party and becoming a four-star general in 2010.

But she largely disappeared from public view after her husband Jang Song Thaek was executed last December for charges including treason.