Kim Yo Jong
Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, is sitting in one of the most important political posts in the regime. Speaking to lawmakers at the National Assembly on 25 August 2020, South Korea's Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said Kim Yo-jong had taken over the party's Organization and Guidance Department. The OGD is responsible for checking around three million party members to ensure they are following the teaching of the North's regime and remain loyal to Kim Jong-un. Experts also believe Kim Yo-jong has carved out a key role in North Korea. "Kim Yo-jong, the first deputy director of the department, appears to be a partner in charge of not only the regime's external sectors, but also overall state affairs." Seoul's defense minister said Kim Yo-jong's official title would be first vice director of the party's Organization and Guidance Department. And, she has a key role in shaping the North's relationship with South Korea and the US. He added Seoul would respond with military action if the North launched a military provocation against the South.
South Korea's National Intelligence Service said 20 August 2020 that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had entrusted a significant amount of his power to his sister Kim Yo-jong, making her practically second-in-charge. While Kim Jong-un hadn't officially made his sister his successor, he practically made her manager of the regime's diplomacy. She is now responsible for the isolated nation's relations with the United States and South Korea.
DPRK head Kim Jong Un promoted his younger sister Kim Yo Jong to a position of political authority within the country’s ruling party. In a further consolidation of political control, Pyongyang leader Kim's promotion of his closest family member occurred during a meeting of the ruling Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) Workers' Party. "The present situation is stern and we are faced with ordeals," Kim said during the meeting, adding that DPRK weapons testing will continue in the light of "US imperialists' nuclear blackmail," according to the KCNA statement.
In being promoted to a position as an alternate member of the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee, Kim Yo Jong, 30, will sit on a board led by her elder brother that acts as the party's central decision-making entity. Formerly a vice director in Pyongyang's propaganda branch, Kim's sister is prominent enough to have been sanctioned in January by the US Department of the Treasury, alongside six other DPRK cabinet members, for what the Fed describes as "human rights abuses and censorship activities."
Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has gotten renewed attention. Her current title is the first vice director of the Organization and Guidance Department of the Workers’ Party. But on June 5, the United Front Department of the party warned of the closure of the inter-Korean joint liaison office in Gaeseong. It stressed that South Korea must remember this warning by first vice director Kim Yo-jong in charge of South Korean affairs. Key party figures have generally taken charge of South Korea-related issues. Given that, Kim has now been promoted to No.2, both in name and reality. Announced as her brother’s top official on inter-Korean affairs, Kim Yo-jong in June 2020 repeatedly bashed South Korea over declining bilateral relations and its inability to stop leafleting by defectors and activists. North Korea unleashed a fresh stream of threats and insults 17 June 2020 pledging to dismantle the last remnants of President Moon Jae-in's legacy of rapprochement and move troops into disarmed border areas. President Moon had offered to send his national security adviser Chung Eui-yong and national intel service chief Suh Hoon to Pyeongyang as special envoys. Kim Yo-jong "flatly rejected calling it a tactless and sinister proposal."
Kim Yo-jong strongly criticized South Korean President Moon Jae-in on 17 June 2020 for his recent remarks that stressed inter-Korean cooperation, calling them “shameless sophistry.” Moon made the remarks at a meeting of top aides and in a video message released on Monday to mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark first inter-Korean summit. Kim, vice director of the ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, said in a statement that Moon's remarks evaded responsibility and were full of deep-rooted toadyism. She repeated attacks on Seoul's handling of anti-Pyongyang leaflet campaigns by defectors in the South, saying Moon should have offered an apology, self-reflection and vows to prevent a recurrence, but his recent speech was just full of excuses.
Some analysts believe Ms. Kim’s new hardline stance may be designed to further bolster her military credentials and expand her authority, not easy tasks in a male-dominated, hierarchical system like North Korea’s. “With the growing health concerns over her brother, she is flexing her muscles to gain support from the regime’s hardliners and the military,” said Jay Song, a lecturer in Korean studies at the University of Melbourne's Asia Institute.
DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and his younger sister Kim Yo Jong share the same mother, Ko Yong Hui, a consort to former North Korean leader Kim Jong il. Kim sister is thought to have the same level of influence as the current DPRK leader's wife, Ri Sol Ju. According to South Korea's University of North Korean Studies professor Yang Moo-Jin, "Kim Jong Un is extending his father and grandfather's practice of empowering family members," cited by Bloomberg. Kim Yo Jong has "been recognized for the work she's done in the past year to idolize Kim Jong Un," added Yang.
As the first vice director of the Workers’ Party, Kim lashed out at the South Korean presidential office early last month. Later, she also disclosed that U.S. President Donald Trump had sent a letter to her brother. Apparently, she has strengthened her political status enough to weigh in on inter-Korean affairs and U.S. relations. It is widely believed that she has been raised to the level of North Korea’s second-in-command, a promotion from her previous role as an assistant to her brother.
Kim Yo-jong is one of the members of North Korea’s royal family, or the so-called Baekdu Bloodline, which refers to the bloodline of the nation’s founder Kim Il-sung. There are not many records about her early life. According to the memoirs of Kenji Fujimoto, a Japanese cook who used to be Kim Jong Il ’s chef, Kim and Jung were quite loved by his father Kim Jong Il when he was young. In addition, from 1996 to 2001, her elder brother Kim Jong-un and her were renamed "Park Yin" and "Zheng Shun" together, posing as children of the North Korean Embassy in Switzerland in Bern, Switzerland. Studying in an international school, learning English, German and French; and their photos when studying in Switzerland were exposed in June 2010. After returning to China, she was taught individually by foreign teachers. She is known as the only person in the regime to speak frankly to leader Kim Jong-un and will even tell him harsh truths. She drew attention from people in South Korea when she visited as a special envoy ahead of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. At the time, she sat face to face with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and delivered a letter from her brother.
Kim Yeo- jung is the fourth daughter of Kim Jong-il's three boys and four girls, who was the Chairman of the Defense Committee of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. On January 12, 2017, the United States identified Kim Yeo-jung as being born in 1989, but the Ministry of Unification of the Republic of Korea said she was born in 1987. It’s unclear exactly how old she is. While records in the U.S. indicate that she was born in 1989, South Korea assumes that she was born in 1987 or 1988. The Unification Ministry in Seoul estimates Kim was born in 1987. If the estimation is correct, she became a member of the Supreme People’s Assembly at the age of 25, a member of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party at 27 and a candidate of the politburo at 28. And on January 1, she was appointed as the first vice director of the party. Clearly, she plays a key role in the Kim Jong-un regime, both in name and reality.
In May 2015, the National Intelligence Service (KIS) found that Kim Yeo-jung is now pregnant and will give birth in May. In January 2016, in a photo reported in the Labor Newspaper, Kim Yeo-jung was wearing a ring on her left ring finger. In April 2015, a video of wearing a ring was also reported.
Some sources claims that Kim Yeo-jung married Foreign Minister Li Su-yong in 2014. The South Korean government also acknowledged the intelligence, but said it was not confirmed. The husband works in the Labor Party's room 39, the first chairman of Kim's rulership, and Foreign Minister Li Soo-yong has been a North Korean ambassador to Switzerland for Kim Jong-un and Kim Yeo-jung's brother-in-law in Switzerland.
However, according to a 2016 Chosun Ilbo report, Kim Yo-jong’s husband is not the son of DPRK Labor Party Central Committee Vice Chairman Cui Longhai, but a scientific research professor at a university in Pyongyang, a civilian. Or Kim Yo Jong may be married to the sone of Choe Ryong Hae -- North Korea’s ceremonial head of state and No. 2 leader - Washington Post journalist Anna Fifield wrote in her 2019 biography of Kim Jong Un, “The Great Successor.”
In October 2014, Kim Yo Jong had reportedly taken over state duties for her ailing brother while he underwent medical treatment. In November 2014, she was named vice director of the ruling party's Propaganda and Agitation Department. As one of her brother's close aides, she undertook additional administrative tasks — receiving reports, briefing her brother, forwarding his instructions, summoning senior officials. In the summit between Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February, Kim Yo-jong stayed next to her brother to handle protocol at a close distance. Before arriving in Vietnam, she was spotted assisting her brother when he took a smoking break, holding an ashtray. At the time, her close assistance drew much attention.
She assisted Kim Jong-un in June 2019 when he met with leaders of South Korea and the U.S. at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom. In the same month, she was also present when her brother met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Pyongyang. Together with Kim Jong-un, she attended the test of a super-large multiple rocket launcher in August 2019. She sat next to him, along with his wife Ri Sol-ju and his aunt Kim Kyung-hui, at a performance celebrating the Lunar New Year holiday. On 21 March 2020, she accompanied her brother who inspected a test of a tactical guided weapon. In brief, she demonstrated her presence in diplomatic, military and political areas.
Her elevated status can be seen in the two statements released in her own name. In the first statement under her name on 03 March 2020, she slammed the South Korean presidential office, calling it “mentally challenged.” In her second statement on March 22, she revealed the fact that Trump had sent a personal letter to the North Korean leader. In the statement, she expressed her personal opinion about future North Korea-U.S. relations.
Previously, North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland and the Foreign Ministry issued statements about inter-Korean affairs and North Korea-U.S. relations, respectively. But Kim Yo-jong has now come to the forefront to announce the government’s position, reflecting that her political status has risen significantly.
Kim Yo-jong can read the leader’s mind better than anyone else and is one of a few figures he can trust. Perhaps, she is the only person who can influence her brother’s decision making on an equal footing.
At the plenary meeting of the Workers’ Party Central Committee late last year, it seems that Kim Yo-jong was transferred from the Propaganda and Agitation Department to the Organization and Guidance Department. It’s important to note that it is the most powerful department in the party. Considering her royal status in the nation’s dynastic political system, many predict that she may wield even greater influence down the road.
Kim Yo-jong has never left the leader’s side since he took power after the death of their father and former leader Kim Jong-il. The two spent their school days overseas together. For Kim Jong-un, his sister was probably the only person, whom he talked with and trusted. Especially during the lonely and important period when his thoughts and values were formed. Of course, he has his wife and children now. But his confidence in his sister is so great that he can focus on his own tasks, while letting her do other important things.
Formerly, several people were regarded as the No.2 man in the North Korean military or politics. But Kim Yo-jong is the only figure whose official role or power has been elevated to carry out public activities effectively. In a sense, she is Kim Jong-un’s other self. The two play their respective roles and make important decisions together to lead the country.
As to the question, “Who will rule North Korea in the event of the death of the current leader?”, the answer is clear — his sister. Kim Yo-jong is the only person who can replace the leader for now. It appears that she is being groomed as a leader in the absence of her brother. She has actually played important roles in dealing with protocol for key events and demonstrating the status of her country to the outside world. As of late, she has issued diplomatic statements as well. Probably she will take on more responsibility in the future and North Korea will be led by the two siblings.
Kim Yo Jong's detractors argue that she is too young and inexperienced to lead North Korea. Also, North Korean society is heavily patriarchal, and it would not be easy for a woman to lead the country. Some analysts, however, say she is probably the best option in the present scenario.
Unlike her another older brother Kim Jong-chol, who went out of the public eye, Kim Yo-jong enjoys her high status. She has been promoted so fast that North Koreans often say, “All roads lead to Comrade Yo-jong.”
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