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North Korea’s Kim Jong Un promotes his sister: Who is Kim Yo Jong?

Kim Yo Jong’s promotion indicates the 28-year-old has become a replacement for Kim Jong Un’s aunt, Kim Kyong Hee, who had been a key decision-maker when former leader Kim Jong Il was alive.

world Updated: Oct 08, 2017 19:21 IST
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his sister Kim Yo Jong are pictured in this file photo.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his sister Kim Yo Jong are pictured in this file photo. (Reuters File Photo)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has promoted his sister, Kim Yo Jong, as an alternate member of the politburo – the top decision-making body over which he presides.

Alongside Kim Jong Un himself, the promotion makes Kim Yo Jong the only other millennial member of the influential body.

Her promotion indicates the 28-year-old has become a replacement for Kim Jong Un’s aunt, Kim Kyong Hee, who had been a key decision maker when former leader Kim Jong Il was alive.

The promotion was announced along with those for dozens of other top officials at a party meeting led by the leader on Saturday. It came as the regime faces growing global pressure to curb its weapons drive following recent nuclear and missile tests.

“It shows that her portfolio and writ is far more substantive than previously believed and 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.

Who is Kim Yo Jong?

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

The sister has frequently been seen accompanying her brother on his “field guidance trips” and other events and is known to have been involved in the party’s propaganda operations.

Both were born to the late former ruler Kim Jong-Il and his third partner, former dancer Ko Yong-Hui.

The family has ruled North Korea since its creation in 1948. The current ruler came to power after the death of his father in December 2011.

The uncle, Jang Song-Thaek, was executed in 2013 for treason and the half-brother Kim Jong-Nam was killed by a toxic nerve agent in a Cold War-style assassination at a Kuala Lumpur airport in February.

“Kim Yo Jong is the youngest of Kim Jong Il’s seven children and Kim Jong Un’s younger sister. Her mother Ko Yong Hui was a member of the prestigious Mansudae Art Troupe and was a common-law wife of Kim Jong Il’s,” Madden told website DW.

“Kim Yo Jong received private tutoring at home and along with Kim Jong Un attended two schools near Berne, Switzerland, during the 1990s and early 2000s. She later attended university in North Korea and took courses in Western Europe shortly thereafter,” he said, according to the report.