“Rip apart the defectors, the traitors and the human trash,” demonstrators wearing masks and standing in neat rows shouted at rallies in North Korea 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, 32. She is believed to be in charge of the campaign against the defectors and their leaflets.
“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.
At the Kim-Trump summits in Singapore and Vietnam, Kim Yo Jong appeared to act as her brother’s personal assistant, holding his pens and ashtrays. On other occasions, 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.
Recently, her rhetoric has recently grown harsher. In a statement, she assailed North Korean defectors as “human scum little short of wild animals who betrayed their own homeland.”
Since first meeting him in 2018 she described Moon, the South Korean president, as an “insane” man who put his neck in “the noose of the pro-U.S. flunkyism.”