Thursday, October 21, 2021

North Korea: The rise and rise of ‘first sister’ Kim Yo-jong

When South Korean President Moon Jae-in recently called for an end to the war on the Korean peninsula, the initial reaction was a rebuke from North Korea’s deputy foreign minister. This has been Pyongyang’s standard response whenever the idea of ​​turning the 1953 armistice between the two warring Koreas into a de facto peace treaty has been raised.

So it was surprising, when, the next day, a heated message emerged from Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, who declared the idea “plausible.” He specified a number of pre-conditions that would need to be met, however:

The dual practice of justifying our own actions by blaming our equitable exercise of the right to self-defense requires letting go of illogical prejudice, bad habits and hostile attitudes.

This is the kind of message one usually expects to come from Kim Jong-un himself, so it triggered a round of discussions with the media’s Korea watchers about how much weight the world could give to his little sister.

Who is Kim Yo-jong?

The supreme leader’s sister first came to international attention in 2018, when she became the first member of North Korea’s Kim dynasty to visit South Korea in an official capacity. She was part of the nation’s delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, in which the two countries competed as a team. She held meetings with President Moon and appeared in photo opportunities with US Vice President Mike Pence and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Footage of coverage of his dominance in North Korea.

After what was reported as her diplomatic victory at the Winter Olympics, her profile rose as she met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and was present at all three face-to-face meetings between her brother and US President Donald Trump.

Little is known about Kim Yo-jong’s childhood, however – his date of birth is also shrouded in uncertainty. She is the youngest child of former Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il’s relationship with Ko Yong-hui, who was originally from Japan and thus regarded as being from a lower caste in Korea’s complex “songbun” system. If Kim Jong-il had not removed official records about his origin. Kim Yo-jong is believed to have attended the same private school with his older brother in Bern, Switzerland, after which he attended Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang, where he studied computer science.

By 2009, Kim Jong-il’s ill health made the succession a matter of immediate debate and it became increasingly clear that Kim Jong-un was being prepared to assume the leadership upon his death. But at Kim Jong-il’s funeral, Kim Yo-jong was photographed with senior family members.

She has been promoted to the Politburo twice, from 2017 to 2019 and 2020 to 2021. In addition, she is also a leader of the Department of Propaganda and Movement, in which she has promoted the cult of personality along with her brother. Regular statement about North Korean foreign relations.

She is believed to be married to Choe Song, the younger son of Cho Ryong Hee, secretary of the Korean Workers’ Party, which gives her another source of political power.

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How Much Power Does Kim Yo-jong Really Have? An incident from June 2020 shows the extent to which she can exercise her will in North Korea. In retaliation for South Korean defectors’ use of balloons to drop propaganda leaflets in the North, he warned that he had ordered the department in charge of the Inter-Korean Affairs Department to “decisively take the next action”, adding: “very First, there will be a sad sight of the complete collapse of the disused North-South Joint Liaison Office.”

The building was blown up the next day, suggesting that it happens when Kim Yo-jong orders something.

Another interesting episode may shed some light on the power relationship between him and his brother. In March 2020, Kim Yo-jong issued his first official statement, lambasting South Korea’s presidential office, the so-called Blue House, which called on the North to halt its live-fire exercises. He referred to the leadership as “an only child” and “a frightening fire from a burnt child”.

Two days later, Kim Jong-un sent a condolence message over the COVID-19 outbreak in the South. It “underlined his unwavering friendship and trust in President Moon and said he would continue to send his best wishes to President Moon in the quiet”. The message left Korea watchers confused as to whether the siblings were at loggerheads over North-South relations or whether it was a display of “good cop-bad cop” diplomacy.

It is a family where several potential male contenders for power have been killed or maimed – including Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-un’s half-brother, who died at Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017. was murdered with the nerve agent VX; and his uncle, Jang Song-thak, who was killed by firing squad in 2013 after allegedly being accused of being counter-revolutionary. So the state of Kim Yo-jong’s relationship with his brother is examined as is Kim Jong-un’s physical health when it comes to whether – and when – he will be able to challenge for ultimate power in North Korea. may be in the situation.

Flexing his power: Two days after Kim Yo-jong arrived in Hanyo, Vietnam, he ordered the dismantling of the Inter-Korea Liaison Office.
EPA_EFE/Thai Lin Luong

In North Korea, it seems that it is necessary to seize the hold of the trinity of military, party and people in order to achieve leadership. Both Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un became key figures of the party through the National Defense Commission (NDC) – the military – as well as the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP). Both developed their cult of personality, which gave them access to people.

Kim Yo-jong may have achieved name recognition in his capacity as a spokesman on foreign relations and access to power in the KWP. But he is yet to be appointed to a post in the NDC. If that happens soon, it could be a sign that North Korea is preparing for its first female leader.

This article is republished from – The Conversation – Read the – original article.

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