Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un's younger sister steps out of the shadows, here's what we know about her
Here is all you can know about Kim Jong-un's younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, the first Kim family royal to set foot in South Korea.
The younger sister of dictator Kim Jong-un, Kim Yo-jong, is set to make an appearance at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics which will make her the first member of the Kim family to ever set foot into South Korea. According to South Korean officials, this is a very positive sign that the North Korean leader is willing to ease the tension between the two countries.
Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, was all smiles at Pyongyang station as she farewelled a North Korean delegation. South Korean media is abuzz with speculation she will come to the Olympics. pic.twitter.com/zrUDkufEQC— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) February 7, 2018
It is believed that she will spend almost three days in South Korea before returning home. Here are a few things that we know about Kim Yo-jong, the North Korean princess.
Her age, she could be 28, 30, or maybe 31
According to the US Treasury department, Kim Yo-jong is the youngest child and the only daughter of Kim Jong II and his partner, a Japanese born dancer, Ko Yong Hui. They had about three children together; the eldest child is Kim Jong Chol, then Kim Jong-un (34-years-old) followed by Kim Yo-jong who is believed to have been born in the year 1989.
Kim Yo Jong looks very relaxed, at ease, meeting South Korean officials when she arrived in Seoul. She was deferring to Kim Yong Nam, to give him the most important seat. pic.twitter.com/Wgpxt9C3RS— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) February 9, 2018
The information on her age was revealed when she was blacklisted for her human rights abuse. The South Korean intelligence claims that she was born in 1987 but either way she is just about 30.
School in Switzerland
Just as her brothers had done, she also attended school in Bern, the Swiss capital. She even went to the same school as Kim Jong-un, Liebefeld-Steinhölzli, and lived in a simple apartment close by. She had to go by another name and alias, Pak Mi Hyang. It is reported that she even took ballet classes in Bern which she really enjoyed.
Kim Yo Jong as a girl: this is the earliest photo we have of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister, taken while she was at school in Switzerland. pic.twitter.com/LrDFgGBzdt— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) February 8, 2018
According to Kenji Fujimoto, a Japanese sushi chef who worked at the palace revealed how Kim Jong Il loved and adored his daughter and would often call her his "sweet, sweet Yo Jong.
Political potential at an early age
Kim Yo-jong returned to North Korea by the year 2000 or 2001 pretty much at the same time as Kim Jong-un. Her further schooling is unknown though it is believed that she completed special classes at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang. According to the North Korea Leadership Watch blog, Kim Jong Il proudly spoke of his daughter's interest in politics and how she wanted a career in the North Korean political system.
As per the records of Russian envoy, Konstantin Pulikovsky, who frequently visited North Korea during the time of Kim Jong Il, he also spoke of how Kim Jong-un and Kim Yo-jong were both interested in the politics of the country and were hoping to make careers in the same.
First sighting was at her father's funeral
After she returned to Pyongyang, Kim Yo-jong was not seen out in public and remained on the down low. She made her debut in the North Korean media when she was spotted at her father's funeral at the end of the year 2011. She was groomed for leadership by her aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, who also advised Kim Jong Il as well as Kim Jong-un.
Kim Yo Jong's first recorded public appearance: The North Korean princess appeared among the mourners at her father's funeral at the end of 2011. pic.twitter.com/GWPw4dgbZU— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) February 8, 2018
In the year 2009, Kim Kyong Hui, the aunt of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un made a brief appearance before television screens. She has always been behind the scenes. She is the daughter of the founding North Korean leader Kim Il-sung and the sister of the late leader Kim Jong-il. She is responsible for establishing Kim Jong-un's hereditary campaign and worked in the National Defense Commission.
She is taking inspiration from her aunt
North Korea's television channel broadcasted footage of Kim Yo-jong horse riding with her aunt Kim Kyong Hui in the year 2012. However, she disappeared from media eye in 2013 when her husband, Jang Song Thaek was executed as he was trying to build a rival power base to Kim Jong-un.
Kim Yo Jong was shown horse-riding with her aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, in 2012. Just as Kim Kyong Hui supported Kim Jong Il, Kim Yo Jong is now supporting her brother. pic.twitter.com/p9XTl1m6lJ— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) February 8, 2018
It is believed that Kim Kyong Hui is still alive but she is pretty ill. Kim Kyong Hui was a member of the powerful political bureau of the ruling worker's party and Kim Yo-jong took her aunt's place there as of last year. According to former CIA analyst Jung H. Pak, both the women were promoted to help their brothers.
She protects and preserves her brother's image
Kim Yo-jong is the official deputy director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Worker's Party of Korea. With this role, she makes sure that the rules and commands of her brother, Kim Jong-un, is represented well and accurately. She is also responsible for things to run as smoothly as possible.
Kim Yo Jong's role in the North Korean regime is not just ceremonial. She's actually working, protecting the image of her brother Kim Jong Un and making sure that everything runs smoothly. pic.twitter.com/hWsQnPIZzr— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) February 8, 2018
She was also seen working in a big parade in Pyongyang April last year while rushing out from behind the pillars to give her brother some clearly urgent paperwork. During the opening ceremony of a big construction project in the capital, Kim Yo-jong was spotted dressed in a black suit supervising photographers as well as dealing with other logistics.
Can she ever be the leader?
Basically, the answer to this is no and North Korea has a hierarchical and very male-dominated system which would make it almost impossible for her to rule. According to Lim Jae-cheon, a Kim family expert from the Korea University in Seoul, "She can’t be leader. She’s a female." However, she is very influential and has an important role to play he continued.
This role is said to become very important when she travels to South Korea where it is very likely that she will meet the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in.
Any personal details?
No personal details are known about her though a few South Korean and Japanese newspapers reported that she is married to a finance official, Choe Ryong Hae and they are believed to have a child together. Another source reported that she fell in love with her bodyguard. Despite all the speculation, she has been seen with a band on her wedding ring finger
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