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Kim Yo Jong and Kim Kyong Hui

Posted March. 11, 2014 08:18,   


Will Kim Yo Jong inherit the role of her aunt Kim Kyong Hui, just as Kim Jong Un succeeded power from his father. According to North Korea’s Korean Central TV Station on Sunday, that Kim Yo Jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, cast her ballot to elect members of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly at Kim Il Sung Political University in Pyongyang. Kim Yo Jong made an appearance at major events, but it is the first time that a North Korean media outlet has mentioned her name. Kim Yo Jong is believed to hold a vice minister post, considering she was mentioned after Hwang Byong So, vice minister for the organizational leadership department of the ruling Workers’ Party.

The North has meticulously prepared for the emergence of its supreme leader’s younger sister. Kim Yo Jong made her initial public appearance following the death of her father Kim Jong Il in December 2011. At the time, clad in black funeral costume, she was seen weeping as she received mourners standing behind Kim Jong Un, but her name was not in the list of the funeral committee for her father. The North’s Korean Central TV Station aired lone images of Kim Yo Jong, who took an inspection visit to a military unit, in November 2012. It can be said that Pyongyang has effectively concluded the process to publicize her by specifying her name this time, after presenting her face to the North’s power elite and residents several times.

From 1996 to 2000, Kim Yo Jong studied in Bern, Switzerland with her elder brothers Kim Jong Chol and Jong Un. It still remains unknown what kind of education she received after her return to the North, and what she currently is doing. Kim Yo Jong has several names. She would use the name Kim Jong Soon when studying in Switzerland, but her childhood name, as specified by Kim Jong Il’s chef Kenji Fujimoto, was Kim Il Soon.

With Kim Kyong Hui, 72, having effectively retired due to her advanced age and chronic disease, there is no closer confident to Kim Jong Un than his own younger sister. As a secretary to the Workers’ Party, Kim Kyong Hui managed Kim Jong Il’s fund for political rule. However, in order for Pyongyang to retain power that was inherited to the third generation Kim family, it must mobilize all different untested measures. The latest election of members of the Supreme People’s Assembly, which recorded 100 percent voter turnout with more than 99 percent of voters in attendance, is a typical plot of deceit used by dictatorial power, in which it cleverly cheats the public. The 27-year-old Yo Jong will marry soon. Just like Jang Song Thaek, Kim Kyong Hui’s the late husband, the new family member will inevitably have strong power. Jang’s tragic death could give him a lesson, though.

Editorial writer Bhang Hyeong-nam (hnbhang@donga.com)