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Kim Yo-jong: the sister of Kim Jong-un, fast 'becoming his alter ego'

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Wednesday, 22 April, 2020, 21:35
Kim Yo-jong: the sister of Kim Jong-un, fast 'becoming his alter ego'

From producing an ashtray during a cigarette break en route to a nuclear summit to issuing a statement in praise of the US president, Kim Yo-jong has become the single most important figure in the North Korean regime after her brother, the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

Since representing Kim at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Yo-jong has not only acquired prestigious titles within the ruling Workers’ party. She is rumoured to be the brains behind Kim’s carefully constructed public image, at home and abroad. In return, she enjoys the absolute confidence of her brother, a leader capable of ordering the execution of his own uncle for alleged treason.

As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic – with Pyongyang continuing to insist it has not recorded a single case – Kim Yo-jong’s ascendancy continues.

Last month, she made her first public statement, condemning the South as a “frightened dog barking” after Seoul protested against a live-fire military exercise by the North. And in March, she publicly praised Donald Trump for sending Kim a letter in which he said he hoped to maintain good bilateral relations and offered help in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The publication of political statements in Kim Yo-jong’s name underlines her central role in the regime, according to Youngshik Bong, a research fellow at Yonsei University’s Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul. “It is revealing that Kim Jong-un permitted her to write and announce a scathing statement about South Korea in such a personal tone,” Bong said. “He is clearly ready to allow his sister to become his alter ego.”