The Enigma of Kim Yo Jong: Unveiling North Korea’s Deputy Leader
Unmasking the ‘World’s Most Dangerous Woman’
In the recently published book “The Sister,” Professor Sung Yoon Lee of Tufts University delves into the intricate power dynamics of North Korea, shedding light on Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong. Lee portrays Kim Yo Jong as “the world’s most dangerous woman,” as he meticulously outlines her ascension to the status of North Korea’s deputy leader.
The narrative explores the strong sibling bond cultivated during their education years in Switzerland and discusses the iron-fisted rule of the Kim dynasty over North Korea for the past seven decades. The book also touches on allegations of the execution of disloyal family members on direct orders from the Kim siblings, including their uncle, Jang Song Thaek, in 2014.
Emergence from the Shadows
Kim Yo Jong first stepped into the public eye in 2011 at her father’s funeral. Since then, she has largely remained behind the scenes, resurfacing during the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea and at the historic summit between Kim Jong Un and South Korean President, Moon Jae-in.
Lee indicates that Kim Yo Jong, in theory, possesses the power to decide who is to be monitored, demoted, promoted, punished, rewarded, exiled, or even executed. He hints that she may even have control over the country’s nuclear button. These assertions are based on inside reports from North Korea, with claims that she has ordered the executions of high-ranking officials who displeased her.
Lee also suggests that Kim Yo Jong has the authority to issue declarations on behalf of her brother and has issued strong nuclear threats against South Korea. However, he acknowledges the difficulties encountered in gathering information due to North Korea’s extreme isolation.
A Contrasting Perception
Meanwhile, North Korea researcher Geir Helgesen, associated with the Nordic Institute for Asian Studies at the University of Copenhagen, presents a different perspective of Kim Yo Jong. Based on conversations with colleagues who have interacted with her, he describes her as fairly normal, provided she is shown respect. He emphasizes that the real power in North Korea is held by her brother, Kim Jong Un. Helgesen believes that she is loyal to him and his politics. He dismisses speculation about her being his successor, and he doubts she has ordered executions in North Korea.
The contrasting views on Kim Yo Jong’s role and influence in North Korea paint a complex picture of the nation’s leadership. While the country remains isolated and information is hard to come by, the political dynamics continue to intrigue the world. As the deputy leader of North Korea, Kim Yo Jong’s actions and decisions have global implications, further highlighting the importance of understanding her role in the country’s governance.
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