Categories
North sister

Kim Yo Jong, Sister Of North Korea’s Ruler, Rises Through Ranks With Tough Rhetoric – NPR

Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, attends a wreath-laying ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam, on March 2, 2019.

Jorge Silva/AFP via Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Jorge Silva/AFP via Getty Images

Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, attends a wreath-laying ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam, on March 2, 2019.

Jorge Silva/AFP via Getty Images

“Rip apart the defectors, the traitors and the human trash,” demonstrators wearing masks and standing in neat rows shouted at a rally in Nampo, North Korea, last month, state media reported.

Similar demonstrations took place around the country last month, aiming to signal dismay at South Korea for allowing defectors to send propaganda leaflets, often floated on balloons, over the border to criticize North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

While government-organized demonstrations are not unusual in the North, one notable feature of these rallies is that they echo the harsh rhetoric of Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong. She is believed to be 32 and apparently in charge of the campaign against the defectors and their leaflets.

Kim Yo Jong is the first vice director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

Her political star has risen steadily since her brother took power in 2011, leading to speculation that she could one day become the country’s first female ruler. But while there are plausible reasons for her recent elevation, analysts say, the traditional patriarchal nature of North Korean society will likely prevent her from advancing higher up the ranks.

“She’s gone from being her brother’s proxy to his protocol assistant, to his eyes and ears, to a punisher,” comments Kim Seung-chul, a defector who runs the Seoul, South Korea-based North Korea Reform Radio, which broadcasts news into the North.

Kim Yo Jong helps her brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, sign a joint statement following a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Sept. 19, 2018.

Pyongyang Press Corps Pool via AP


hide caption

toggle caption

Pyongyang Press Corps Pool via AP

Kim Yo Jong helps her brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, sign a joint statement following a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Sept. 19, 2018.

Pyongyang Press Corps Pool via AP

Olympic debut

Kim Yo Jong was still in her 20s in 2011 when her father, Kim Jong Il, died and her brother took power.

Her debut on the international stage came in 2018, when she acted as a special envoy at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and met with the country’s president, Moon Jae-in.

In her most recent statement this month, she showed that she remains involved in relations with the United States. She voiced doubt about a summit between Kim Jong Un and President Trump this year. But she left the door open to talks and insisted, “We do not have the slightest intention to pose a threat to the U.S.”

2 Years After Singapore Summit, U.S.-North Korea Relations Back To Square 1

On some occasions, such as Kim-Trump summits in Singapore and Vietnam, she has appeared to act as her brother’s personal assistant, holding his pens and ashtrays. On others, she has been seen watching her brother’s public events from the sidelines. She has also reportedly managed her brother’s public image as an official in charge of propaganda.

Following the abortive Vietnam summit last year, Kim Yo Jong dropped from view for nearly two months.

In 'Terrific Explosion,' North Korea Blows Up Liaison Office

Tough threats and insults

Her rhetoric has recently grown harsher. In a statement last month, she threatened to destroy an inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, North Korea — a symbol of ties with the South. Days later, the building was blown up.

In another statement, she assailed North Korean defectors as “human scum little short of wild animals who betrayed their own homeland.” She described Moon, the South Korean president, as an “insane” man who put his neck in “the noose of the pro-U.S. flunkyism.”

Such language suggests that while her political status may have been upgraded, her political acumen and maturity have not, says Kim Seung-chul.

He also argues that Kim Yo Jong’s efforts to dismantle warmer ties with Seoul cannot have been very popular at home. Some North Korean elites, he says, had hopes that the détente would bring in badly needed South Korean investment and lead to better ties with Washington and an easing of sanctions.

“To those in North Korea who still had a positive attitude toward cooperating with South Korea, [Kim Yo Jong’s actions] are a huge disappointment,” Kim Seung-chul says.

But the younger sister’s rise to what many now see as the de facto No. 2 position in the Kim regime has historical precedent and political logic behind it.

“There is nothing unusual about, say, a sibling of the current leader to be his second in command. It’s actually a very well-established tradition of the Kim family,” says professor Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert at Kookmin University in Seoul. He notes that the current leader’s father, Kim Jong Il, was assisted by his sister during his rule in the 1990s.

Kim Yo Jong’s new role was necessitated by her brother’s disappearance this spring, Lankov says, apparently because of an unknown illness. By one estimate, Kim Jon Un has made only seven public appearances from April through June, compared with 46 in the same period last year.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (left) shakes hands with Kim Yo Jong upon his arrival for a meeting with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, on May 26, 2018, in Panmunjom, North Korea.

Handout/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Handout/Getty Images

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (left) shakes hands with Kim Yo Jong upon his arrival for a meeting with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, on May 26, 2018, in Panmunjom, North Korea.

Handout/Getty Images

“This makes it more necessary for him to have a trusted deputy,” Lankov says. “And this person has to come from, if you like, the royal family, and in the ruling clan, they have now a shortage of adults.”

“Big socialist family”

The ruling Kim clan is known in North Korea as the “Mount Paektu bloodline,” a reference to the mountain on the country’s border with China where North Korea claims Kim Jong Il was born and his father fought the Japanese.

“In many regards, North Korea is similar to the European societies of late medieval and early modern days. It is essentially a monarchy,” Lankov says, in which family members are more trusted than other elites.

That bloodline is what allows Kim Yo Jong to rise so high in North Korean politics, despite a bias against women in power in a country where traditional attitudes are summed up in the Korean maxim “If the hen cries, the household will be ruined.” The saying, used in both Koreas, suggests that when women speak up or take charge, no good will come of it.

“The North Korean system is fundamentally patriarchal,” says Lim Soon-hee, an expert on women in North Korea who is now retired from the Korea Institute for National Unification, a government think tank in Seoul.

“The government tells the people that they form one big socialist family,” she adds. The father of this metaphorical family, she explains, is Kim Jong Un. The mother is the ruling Workers’ Party. The children are the North Korean people. And the father’s authority is unchallenged.

North Korea, she points out, went from being part of the 1392-1910 Choson dynasty to being a colony of the Japanese Empire from 1910 to 1945, to becoming a dictatorship. Although its socialist rhetoric upholds equality of the sexes, the North, unlike the South, never had a strong civil society or government agencies designed to improve women’s place in society.

As a result, “the social atmosphere is that women are inferior to men. Women themselves would never dare to compare themselves to men,” she says.

This is why she believes Kim Yo Jong’s most likely future role is not that of successor but, instead, a regent or caretaker until the leader’s son is old enough to take over. Lim says Kim Jong Un reportedly has three small children who are too young to rule.

Even if Kim Yo Jong were to take power, Lim argues, North Korea’s conservative military would never accept it.

“Kim Yo Jong herself would not hope to be a successor, although she may have a strong will to acquire greater practical power,” Lim concludes. “She is smart enough to know that it wouldn’t be easy for a woman.”

Se Eun Gong and Ha-Kyung Kim contributed to this story in Seoul, South Korea.

Read More

Categories
'Princess' sister

Kim Jong Un’s ‘Princess’ sister is turning into the Terminator – New York Post

Rocketman better watch out. His kid sister, nicknamed “Princess” in North Korea and sometimes referred to as the “Twisted Sister,” is now acting more like the Terminator.

Kim Yo Jong, all regal cheekbones and icy glare, ordered a joint liaison office for both North and South Korea blown up last week as part of an aggressive charge against South Korea — and by extension the United States. She also slammed the leader of South Korea and threatened military action in a sudden seizing of power that may or may not be authorized by her big brother.

Some wonder if she is the Hermit Kingdom’s new dragon lady, and want to know her endgame.

“From what I’ve observed she is cold and ruthless and haughty,” said Suzanne Scholte, the American founding co-chair of Free North Korea Radio and president of the Washington DC Defense Forum.

“Her new aggressiveness is part of the consolidation and solidification of power. Kim Jong Un has to show that if something were to happen to him, there’s a successor and that the Kim family … bloodline is still in power.”

Once described only as her brother’s close aide, one who would fetch him a crystal ashtray while he smoked, Kim Yo Jong has made herself a force to be reckoned with almost overnight in Pyongyang.

“There is no No. 2 in North Korea but she is acting like a No. 2,” David Maxwell, a retired US Army Special Forces colonel and North Korea expert, told the Post. “It’s very unlikely she could be doing this on her own. Kim must have given her the authority. That provides him with options for the future.”

She’s young and female, but talk that North Korea would never accept a woman leader is untrue, some say.

“She’s fierce and formidable and I don’t think her gender is an issue at all,” Sean King, an Asian specialist at Park Strategies, told the Post.

King said women run the powerful black markets in North Korea despite the country’s rep as a rock-solid patriarchy. It’s the mystical Mount Paektu bloodline that matters, he said, even though it’s based on a lie.

Kim Yo Jong, who was educated at posh Swiss schools like her brother, lives in the luxurious and fortress-like palace compound in Pyongyang, reportedly with her high-ranking political official husband Choe Song. They are believed to have a 5-year-old daughter. Her brother has a place there as well, although he prefers his Mar-a-Lago-style compound in the seaside resort town of Wonsan.

Kim Yo Jong represented North Korea at the 2018 Winter Olympics held in South Korea and she was at her brother’s side at summits with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in, President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China. She reportedly fell out of favor after the disastrous Hanoi summit in 2019 ended abruptly without any sanctions lifted — but has clawed her way back to power.

Kim Yo Jong slammed the South’s leader, Moon Jae-in last week, saying it was “sickening to listen to his speech” calling for peace on the Korean peninsula.

“He seems to be insane, though he appears to be normal outwardly,” she fumed.

She also railed against the anti-regime propaganda leaflets long launched into North Korea in balloons organized by defectors and their US allies and called the perpetrators “human scum” and “mongrel dogs.”

On Friday, North Korea said they would flood “leaflet bombs of justice” to “terrorize” the south in retaliation. North Koreans have amassed a pile of leaflets “as big as a mountain,” state news agency KCNA reported Friday.

Even veteran observers of North Korea aren’t sure if Kim Yo Jong’s sudden coming-out is more proof that the roly-poly Rocketman is on his last legs — he was last seen publicly on May 1 — and needs to groom his sister as successor, or if the two of them just want to keep the West guessing.

Insiders say that Kim is under tremendous pressure from the old men who help him run North Korea because he hasn’t managed to get UN sanctions lifted.

“It could be part of a deception strategy,” Maxwell said. “He’s sitting back watching us speculating. Remember this is all about the sanctions and North Korea is taking aim at the south to pressure them to intervene with Washington.”

Read More