Kim Jong Un promotes his sister to center of power

In a meeting of the powerful Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party on Saturday, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un made his sister, Kim Yo Jong, an alternate member of the politburo — the top decision-making body over which Kim Jong Un presides.

Alongside Kim Jong Un himself, the promotion makes Kim Yo Jong the only other millennial member of the influential body. Her new position indicates the 28-year-old has become a replacement for Kim Jong Un’s aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, who had been a key decision maker when former leader Kim Jong Il was alive.

“It is a further consolidation of the Kim family’s power,” said Michael Madden, a North Korea expert at Johns Hopkins University’s 38 North website.

In January, the U.S. Treasury blacklisted Kim Yo Jong along with other North Korean officials over “severe human rights abuses”.

North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, who named Donald Trump “President Evil” in a bombastic speech to the U.N. General Assembly last month, was also promoted to full vote-carrying member of the politburo.

“Ri can now be safely identified as one of North Korea’s top policy makers,” said Madden. “Even if he has informal or off the record meetings, Ri’s interlocutors can be assured that whatever proposals they proffer will be taken directly to the top,” he said.

[Reuters]

Kim Jong-un’s sister consolidates power

Kim Yeo-jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, appears to have risen to a position of considerable power in the secretive regime. Yeo-jong now holds a key post in the Workers Party’s department in charge of promotions and appointments. Senior officials like Army politburo chief Hwang Pyong-so now salute her.

Kim Yeo-jong rose quickly through the party ranks and consolidated her position, thanks to her quick wit and natural political acumen. Since September last year, she has been her brother’s de facto secretary, with most documents being submitted for approval by Kim passing through her desk, according to some intelligence sources.

“Rumors began spreading late last year that the fastest way of getting Kim Jong-un’s attention is to go through Kim Yeo-jong,” the source said. “She’s gaining power by controlling the information and deciding who gets to contact him.”

Kim Yeo-jong apparently won the trust of senior officials by consoling them and offering them advice when they were criticized by her brother. The two of them are seen as a classic good cop/bad cop act.

But her political ambitions have apparently led to some jealousy in the family. “When Yeo-jong was on maternity leave in May last year, Kim Jong-un’s wife Ri Sol-ju appointed a close relative of hers, and that frayed their relationship,” another source said.

A source said Kim Yeo-jong’s husband is a university professor in Pyongyang and comes from an ordinary background, denying recent rumors that she is married to the son of senior official Choe Ryong-hae.

[Chosun Ilbo]

Kim Yo-jung, Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, makes rare public appearance

Kim Yo-jung, the younger sister of North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un, has reportedly reappeared in public after two months out of the public eye.

Kim Yo-jung, 28, was photographed accompanying her older brother as he inspected a tree nursery operated by the army, South Korea’s Yonhap news reported.

The South Korean news site claimed that images of Kim’s sister, appearing slimmer than her past appearances and wearing a knee-length black dress with a fur collar, had prompted speculation she had recently given birth to her first child. Kim Yo-jung married a former classmate from Kim Il-sung University. Her baby was expected in May.

It has been suggested Kim, who studied in Switzerland at the same time as her brother, is Kim’s closest confidante, working alongside him as deputy director of the Worker’s Party.

The position was formerly held by her uncle, Jang Song-thaek, who was publicly executed for crimes against the state two years ago.

 [The Independent]

Introducing Kim Sol-Song, the shadowy older sister of Kim Jong-Un

Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, Kim Yo-Jong, may be on the political rise but were you aware of Kim’s shadowy older sister, Kim Sol-Song?

According to Ken Gause, a North Korea leadership expert at CAN Corporation, Kim Sol-Song is the “purest of the pure,” because she’s the only one among Kim and his siblings ever officially recognized by their grandfather, North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung.

“She is a person who has her finger on the pulse of the regime. And she is probably helping Kim Jong Un and Kim Yo Jong in mentoring them in the relationship building that needs to be done for Kim Jong Un to be able to consolidate his power,” Gause said.

Another sibling, Kim Jong Chul, an older brother of Kim Jong-Un, recently appeared singing along at an Eric Clapton concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Kim Jong Chul has gone to Clapton concerts all over the world. He has plenty of time and money on his hands, analysts say, since he was passed over for the leadership position in favor of his younger brother.

“Kim Jong-Chul was not seen as being capable of dealing with the blood sport which is North Korean politics, especially as you move from succession period to consolidation period. And unlike his brother Kim Jong Un he was seen as being potentially too weak,” said Gause.

Now, analysts say Kim Jong Chul is in a network of children of the elites who allegedly bring in money for the regime from black market deals.

And there is another brother who was also passed over. The oldest, Kim Jong Nam, embarrassed the family in 2001 when he was caught trying to get to Tokyo’s Disneyland on a fake Dominican passport. He’s said to spend his days traveling and gambling.

But the sibling with real influence might just be Kim’s older sister, Kim Sol-Song?

[CNN]

North Korean propaganda chief makes way for Kim Jong Un sister?

An octogenarian dinosaur in the North Korean regime seems to have finally retired and made way for leader Kim Jong-un’s sister.

Footage shows Kim Ki-nam (86), the one-time secretary of North Korea’s Workers Party, sitting in the third pew alongside vice-ministerial officials rather than on the leaders’ platform during the third session of the Supreme People’s Assembly in Pyongyang on April 9.

Kim Ki-nam was also not seen on the leaders platform at a rally marking the 103rd birthday of regime founder Kim Il-sung last Tuesday.

This suggests he has retired from his job and assumed an honorary post.

It is highly likely that Kim Jong-un’s sister Yeo-jong has replaced him.

“Kim Jong-un probably appointed his sister, whom he can trust, as party secretary for propaganda,” a source speculated. “Kim Ki-nam’s old age was a consideration for a post that is in charge of idolizing the young leader.”

[Chosun Ilbo]

The two women who prop up North Korea’s Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-un’s wife Ri Sol Ju

Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong

One sports a Christian Dior handbag and favors Western clothes. The other carries a notebook and wears dark uniforms. These fashion opposites are the two most influential women in North Korea.

While Kim Jong-un’s wife Ri Sol Ju and younger sister Kim Yo-jong are currently allies in sustaining one of the world’s most reclusive leaders, their overlapping influence makes them potential rivals in a regime where family ties aren’t strong enough to protect against Kim’s penchant for purges.

“Uneasiness is inevitable in a relationship like this,” Kang Myong Do, a son-in-law of North Korea’s former Prime Minister, Kang Song San, said by phone. “The wife wouldn’t like it if her husband got too close to his sister; the sister wouldn’t like it if her brother got too close to his wife.”

Citing conversations with people who have been in the room with both women at the same time, Michael Madden, editor of the North Korea Leadership Watch blog, said the two appeared friendly to each other as they sat at opposite sides – Ri with her husband and Kim with senior party officials.

Read more

Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong in her brother’s shadow

Kim Yo-jong chooses to remain in her brother’s shadow at public events.

Still, Kim Yo-jong “has a lot of control over who has access to her brother, what they say to him, what documents they hand over – in short, she is a combination gatekeeper and traffic cop,” said Michael Madden, editor of the North Korea Leadership Watch blog.

She joined her brother in handing out awards to troops at an air force competition in May and that suggests she commands the party’s Organization and Guidance Department, which handles everything from promotions to purges, Cheong Seong Chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute near Seoul, said in an e-mail.

Kim was born to the same Korean-Japanese dancer, Ko Yong Hui, as Kim Jong-un. In February 2011 South Korean broadcaster KBS showed what it identified as Kim Yo-jong and her other brother, Kim Jong-chol, enjoying an Eric Clapton concert in Singapore.

Yonhap News said January 2 Kim married one of party secretary Choe Ryong Hae’s sons, citing two people in China it didn’t identify and a photo of her wearing a ring. Dong-A Ilbo newspaper rebutted the report days later.

[Washington Post]

Jong Un’s sister marries son of top North Korean official

The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has married the son of one of the country’s most powerful officials, Yonhap news agency reported on Friday, citing unnamed sources.

north-korean-kim-yo-JongKim Yo Jong, who is 27 or 28, was said by state media late last year to have assumed a senior position in the ruling Workers’ Party. She is the only other member of the ruling Kim family known to have an official job within the government.

“As far as I know, Kim Yo Jong, deputy director of the Workers’ Party, got married to a son of the party secretary Choe Ryong Hae,” the South Korean news agency quoted a China-based source as saying.

A second source identified Kim Yo Jong’s husband as Choe’s second son, Choe Song, Yonhap reported.

The senior Choe is a high-ranking member of the ruling Workers’ Party widely seen as a close confidant of Kim, the isolated country’s third-generation leader.

Kim Yo Jong was seen wearing what appears to be a wedding ring in a photo released by the reclusive North’s official KCNA news agency on Friday.

[Reuters]

Meet Kim Yo Jong North Korean ‘princess’ moving closer to the center of power

Kim Yo Jong North KoreaIn her slim-fitting trouser suits and black-heeled shoes, Kim Yo Jong (see circled in photo) cuts a contrasting figure to her pudgy older brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

On Thursday, state media said the younger Kim, 27, had taken a senior position in the ruling Workers’ Party, confirming speculation she had moved closer to the center of power in the secretive state. It named her as a vice director alongside the head of the Propaganda and Agitation Department, which handles ideological messaging through the media, arts and culture.

Kim Yo Jong’s power has been likened to that of a prime minister, an unnamed South Korean intelligence source told the Seoul-based JoongAng Ilbo newspaper in April. “All roads lead to Comrade Yo Jong,” the source said.

Kim Yo Jong first appeared in state propaganda in 2012, as state TV showed Kim Jong Un arriving at the opening of an amusement park in Pyongyang. Kim Yo Jong ran from one position to another between ranks of applauding party cadres and generals as if she was orchestrating the event for the new North Korean dictator.

Since then, the smartly-dressed Kim, her hair usually pulled back in a ponytail, has made several appearances with her brother, giggling at state concerts, presenting awards to fighter pilots or riding a white horse.

For Kim Yo Jong, it is her family name and proximity to Kim Jong Un that supersedes any cultural norms. “People who are nominally her superiors most likely defer to her,” said Michael Madden, an expert on the North Korean leadership.

Writing in his 2003 memoir about his 13 years as Kim Jong Il’s sushi chef, Kenji Fujimoto said the late Kim Jong Il had a trusting relationship with his fourth partner (Ko Yong Hui), with whom he had three children: Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jong, and their elder brother Kim Jong Chol.

Kim Yo Jong has featured in state propaganda since her brother took over the nuclear-capable country upon the death of their father, in late 2011.

Not much is known about the elder brother, Kim Jong Chol, who was once photographed at the Swiss boarding school all three children reportedly attended.

[Business Insider] 

Kim Jong Un sister named to senior government role

The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been named as a senior government official by state media.

Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jung, was mentioned in an article posted by KCNA on Thursday, referring to her as a vice department director of the Central Committee of the governing Worker’s Party of Korea.

Kim Yo Jung, who is believed to be 27, is the only other member of the ruling Kim family known to have an official job within the North Korean government.

[CNN]