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Who is Kim Yo-Jong, the mysterious sister of Kim Jong-Un and what position does she have in the government?

Kim Jong-Un’s sister has become the public face of North Korea’s government in the last two years, helping oversee policy towards the US and South Korea.

Oliver Povey
Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attends wreath laying ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi

With the announcement last week of renewed North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) testing, South Korea issued a warning, and a threat, toward its northern neighbour. South Korea’s defence minister Suh Wook claimed his nation could “accurately and quickly hit and target” in North Korea if it was felt there was sufficient threat. The most vocal public comments in response, at least to the international media, came from North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s sister, Kim Yo-Jong.

“In case South Korea opts for a military confrontation with us, our nuclear combat force will have to inevitably carry out its duty,” she said according to state media reports.

“If South Korea, for any reason - whether or not it is blinded by misjudgement - opts for such military action as the ‘preemptive strike’ touted by [Mr Suh], the situation will change,” Ms Kim added. The ‘situation’ relates to her comments that South Korea is not the North’s real enemy.

Who is the reclusive Ms Kim and what role does she have in the North Korean government?

Sister of a dictator

The real birthday of Kim Yo-Jong is unknown, with the US listing her birthday as 26 September 1989 while South Korea has it recorded as 26 September 1987, making her either 32 or 34. She was not identified by the North Korean media until 2014 when she began to take more senior roles in the running of the nation.

It is thought that her role in the government is the control of the Propaganda and Agitation Department. The carefully crafted cult of personality surrounding her brother is believed to be her design, modelled on that of her grandfather Kim Il-Sung, the first leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). North Korea is populated with statues and paintings in dedication to their founding fathers.

Kim Yo-Jong perhaps made her biggest steps on the global stage through her involvement in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Both Korea’s had a joint team and she was present at the opening ceremony, the first time a member of her dynasty had visited the South since the Korean war in 1950.

She has since been promoted to the Politburo, the highest governing body in the country and is a member of the Supreme People’s Assembly.


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