Kim Yo-jong is a North Korean politician who is a key member of the Politburo (Political Bureau) of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). She is the younger sister of the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un and is often termed as the most powerful woman in North Korea,
According to South Korea’s intelligence service, Kim Yo-jong was born on 26 September 1987 (age 32 years; as in 2019), and according to the U.S. Treasury Department, she was born on 26 September 1989 (age 30 years; as in 2019) in Pyongyang, North Korea. The Washington Post Some sources claim that Kim Yo-jong and her siblings had an isolated upbringing; relative to the rest of the family; most probably in an effort by her father, Kim Jong Il’s, to keep them away from his father. Newsweek Reportedly, Kim Yo-jong was raised by her mother, Ko Yong-hui, at her residence on Ch’angkwang Hill in central Pyongyang. North Korean Leadership Watch Kim Yo-jong, along with her brother, Kim Jong-un, attended a private elementary school, “Steinhölzli Public School” in Berne, Switzerland. Reportedly, they studied there from the spring of 1996 until December 2000. The Washington Post
After completing the US equivalent of sixth grade from Switzerland, Kim Yo-jong returned to North Korea probably in the late 2000s, North Korean Leadership Watch where she studied Computer Science at the Kim Il-sung Military University. Korea Joongang Daily
Height (approx.): 5′ 4″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Family & Ethnicity
Kim Yo-jong belongs to the Mount Paektu bloodline or Mount Baekdu bloodline; having East Asian ethnicity.
Parents & Siblings
Kim Yo-jong’s mother died on 13 August 2004. Reportedly, it was after a decade of three-year-long war between North Korea and U.S.-backed South Korea that her mother moved to North Korea where she met Kim Jong-il, the second Supreme Leader of North Korea.
Some sources claim that when Ko Yong-hui first met Kim Jong-il, he was already married and had two children from separate women – Kim Jong-nam (half-brother of Kim Yo-jong), and Kim Sol-song (half-sister of Kim Yo-jong). Newsweek
Kim Yo-jong is reportedly the youngest child of her parents. She has two elder brothers, Kim Jong-chul who is a guitarist, and Kim Jong-un who is the third Supreme Leader of North Korea.
Relationships, Husband & Children
There is no concrete evidence about her marital status; however, according to some reports of South Korean and Japanese tabloids, Kim Yo-jong is married to a finance official who is the son of senior official Choe Ryong Hae. These reports also claim that the couple might have at least one child while some other reports claim that she is unmarried and has no child. There is another report that claims that once she was in a relationship with a bodyguard. The Washington Post
Kim Yo-jong started showing her political potential at an early age. Reportedly, when she returned to North Korea from Switzerland, her father, Kim Jong-il, proudly told foreign interlocutors that his youngest daughter, Kim Yo-jong was interested in politics, and she was very keen to make a career in North Korea’s political system. North Korean Leadership Watch Even a Russian envoy, Konstantin Pulikovsky, who used to frequently visit North Korea during the reign of Kim Jong-il, had also noticed about Kim Yo-jong’s interest and aptitude in politics. During 2007-2008, she worked as a junior cadre in the central party under her father and aunt, Kim Kyong Hui. After her father suffered a stroke in September 2008, she joined her father’s entourage of close aides, and along with her aunt Kim Kyong Hui, she attended her father’s on-site visits. In May 2009, Kim Yo-jong, along with her father and brother Kim Jong-un, visited Wo’nsan University of Agriculture where they had multiple photo sessions. In 2011, her father died, and her brother, Kim Jong-un, became the next Supreme Leader of North Korea, and since then, she has been serving the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in different capacities.
First Public Appearance
Kim Yo-jong was first noticed by media in September 2010, when at a photo session at the 3rd conference of the WPK, the South Korean media identified a woman as Kim Yo-jong. In the photo, she was spotted standing next to her father’s technical secretary and fifth consort, Kim Ok. North Korean Leadership Watch Her next appearance was reported at the end of 2011 when she attended her father, Kim Jong-il’s funeral.
Groomed By Her Aunt
Reportedly, Kim Yo-jong learned the basics of politics and other such stuff by her aunt, Kim Kyong-hui, and just like her aunt who shaped her brother’s career in politics, Kim Yo-jong has also been curating her brother’s image in politics, since his accession to the Supreme Leader of North Korea in 2011.
In a North Korea’s state television broadcast in 2012, Kim Yo-jong was spotted riding a horse with her aunt, Kim Kyong Hui.
Reportedly, her aunt disappeared from the public eye, and it’s said that she has been sidelined in the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK); because her husband had tried to overthrow Kim Jong-un and was later executed for the same. Later, Kim Yo-jong replaced her aunt as a member of the powerful political bureau of the ruling Workers’ Party in 2017. The Washington Post
Working Behind Closed Doors
Kim Yo-jong is known for her behind the scenes work for her father, Kim Jong-il, and her brother, Kim Jong-un. By 2011, she had become a regular member of her father’s entourage, and since her father’s demise and Kim Jong-un’s accession to the Supreme Leader of North Korea in 2011, she has been looking after almost all the public affairs of Kim Jong-un behind closed doors.
If some reports are to believed, Kim Yo-jong is the most trustworthy aide of Kim Jong-un, and as the deputy director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea, she always tries to project her brother as a strong and pragmatic leader in media. From time to time, she has also encouraged her brother to present an image of a “man of the people.”
South Korea Visit
When Kim Yo-jong arrived at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, she made history by becoming the first immediate member of the Kim dynasty to ever cross into South Korea; an event that was extensively covered by the international media and which was seen as an effort to smoothen tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The Next Supreme Leader of North Korea?
For her active participation in North Korea’s public affairs, be it all major public events in North Korea or representing North Korea on various international forums, Kim Yo-jong has risen leaps and bounds to become the face of North Korea in international media. With her pragmatic involvement in the country’s policymaking, she is often seen as the next Supreme Leader of North Korea after her brother, Kim Jong-un. However, some experts on North Korea’s political affairs negate this possibility on the pretext of North Korea being a male-dominated country, especially when it comes to its political philosophy, which is highly based on Confucian-hierarchy. Amid the rumours of her brother, Kim Jong-un’s illness in April 2020, various media houses again placed her as the next Supreme Leader of North Korea and the heir presumptive to Kim Jong-Un. The Washington Post
- At the time of her birth, the country was being led by North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, who died in 1994.
- Reportedly, she was called “sweet, sweet Yo Jong” and “Princess Yo Jong” by her father, Kim Jong-il.
- After her mother’s demise in 2004, she did a course from a western European university.
- When Kim Yo-jong was studying Computer Science at the Kim Il-sung Military University in North Korea, she became close friends with Kim Un-gyong who is the daughter of Megumi Yokota; a Japanese abductee to North Korea. Megumi Yokota was just 13 years old when she was abducted to North Korea from Niigata Prefecture in Japan while she was one her way home from her school in 1977. Reportedly, after graduating from the Kim Il-sung Military University, Kim Yo-jong recommended Kim Un-gyong’s name at a core organization in Pyongyang, and since then, both have been working together in key positions of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). Korea Joongang Daily
- While undergoing her schooling in Switzerland, Kim Yo-jong was a very heavily guarded student by a crew of security officials from North Korea. The school officials once revealed one such incident when she had a cold, and she was immediately lifted from the school and rushed to the hospital by her security guards. BBC
- Reportedly, she used to live in a modest apartment under the name “Kim Yo’ng-sun” in Switzerland. North Korean Leadership Watch Another source claim that she went by the alias “Pak Mi Hyang” during her stay in Switzerland. The Washington Post
- It’s believed that while studying in Switzerland, she learned ballet lessons.
- Kim Yo-jong is a skilled equestrian, and she is often spotted enjoying it on various occasions.
- Some officials working in close quarters of Pyongyang have revealed that on her birthdays, she used to get her birthday presents only after greeting her father and that too wearing a Korean People’s Army [KPA] dress uniform.
- Kim Yo-jong’s eldest brother, Kim Jong-chul is a professional guitarist and a big fan of Eric Clapton, an English rock and blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter.
- In March 2020, she made headlines when she praised Donald Trump for his efforts to build up the bilateral relations between the United States and North Korea.
- In popular media, Kim Yo-jong is often termed as the “Ivanka Trump of North Korea.”