Praise for Donald Trump and 'secret' children: What we know about Kim Jong-un's likely successor.


This week it was revealed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is in “grave danger” following a cardiovascular procedure earlier this month.

With the 36-year-old not seen publicly since April 11, it is reported that the United States has contingency plans in place in the event the dictator dies.

If the news is true, it could lead to a new leader for North Korea. And according to widespread western media reports, that new leader will be his little sister, 31-year-old Kim Yo-jong.

Kim Yo-jong
North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un and sister Kim Yo-jong in 2018. Image: Getty.

Currently, North Korea has been controlled by three consecutive generations of the Kim bloodline over the past seven decades. Reporting from inside North Korea is notoriously difficult, especially on matters concerning the country’s leadership, given tight controls on information.

So what exactly do we know about Kim Yo-jong? Like most things in North Korea, very little.

Who is Kim Yo-jong and what is her job?

Kim Yo-jong is the youngest daughter of the former leader Kim Jong-il and the granddaughter of the founder of North Korea, Kim Il-sung.

Along with her older brother, she was educated in Switzerland at a boarding school before returning to North Korea where it is understood she studied computer science.

Now, she is believed to be the vice director of the Department of Propaganda and Agitation for the Worker's Party, which is North Korea's only political party.

In October 2017, she was promoted by her brother, Kim Jong-un, to North Korea's primary decision-making body, Politburo - signifying their close relationship.

She has been described by the New York Times as "a key player in his secretive regime" and as "the pre-eminent female face of the Kim family".

In 2018, Kim Yo-jong attended the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, making her the first immediate member of the North's ruling family to do so.

Kim Yo-jong
Kim Yo-jong, sister of Kim Jong-un attends the women's ice hockey at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea. Image: Getty.

In February this year, Kim Yo-jong publicly praised the President of the United States Donald Trump for sending Kim Jong-un a letter in which he pledged to maintain bilateral relations.

In March this year, Kim Yo-jong made her first public statement in which she condemned South Korea after Seoul, the capital of South Korea, led protests against a military exercise by the North. She likened South Korea to a "frightened dog barking".

"Such incoherent assertion and actions … only magnify our distrust, hatred and scorn for the South side as a whole," she said in a statement published by state media.


Her personal life.

In 2015, it was reported by Reuters that Kim Yo-jong had married the son of one of North Korea's most powerful officials. Her husband was reported to be Choe Song, the son of Choe Ryong Hae.

In some photos, Kim Yo-jong can be seen wearing a ring on her wedding finger, however this remains unconfirmed, with her personal life cloaked in secrecy.

Kim Yo-jong
Kim Jong-un and his sister Kim Yo-jong in 2018. Image: Getty.

In 2018, it was reported that she was pregnant with her second child, according to South Korean media outlets. However the North Korean communist regime never confirmed the birth of her first child (supposedly in May 2015) or her second child.

What is the update on Kim Jong Un's health?

North Korean state media have made no mention of leader Kim Jong-un's health or whereabouts following international speculation he was gravely ill after a cardiovascular procedure.

North Korean media presented a business as usual image, continuing routine reporting of Kim's achievements, publishing his older or undated quotes on issues like the economy.

The White House said it is closely monitoring the matter.

Donald Trump, who held summits with Kim in 2018 and 2019 in a bid to persuade him to give up nuclear weapons, said the reports had not been confirmed.

"I just hope he's doing fine," Trump told a White House news conference on Tuesday. "I've had a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un. And I'd like to see him do well. We'll see how he does. We don't know if the reports are true."

Speculation about Kim's health first arose due to his absence from the anniversary of the birthday of North Korea's founding father and Kim's grandfather, Kim Il Sung, on April 15.

Feature image: Getty.

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