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what we know about Kim Yo Jong (Kim Jong-un sister)

It's not every day North Korea is brought into the limelight. But this time, the spotlight is on North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un's sister as reports of Kim Jong-un's declining health appear all over the news. And that brings up the question of who will be his successor. It looks like his sister, Kim Yo Jong may be the future leader of North Korea. But who is she? Though she plays a powerful role behind-the-scenes, it looks like she may play a more public role in the upcoming future.

what we know about  Kim Yo Jong (Kim Jong-un sister)
Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us / Contributor


North Korea watchers started speculating something happening to Kim Jong Un after he appeared to be missing from the April 15 commemoration of his grandfather, North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung. He hadn't missed any event in North Korea since his father's passing in 2011. Though there have been no unusual signs in North Korea, reports are claiming the leader of North Korea is in poor health. Naturally, this sprung talks of his possible successors, one of them being his sister, Kim Yo Jong.

what we know about  Kim Yo Jong (Kim Jong-un sister)
Photo by Patrick Semansky - Pool /Getty Images

When it comes to an understanding of who Kim Yo Jong is, not much is known about her. Though she was born and spent most of her youth in the capital of North Korea, Pyongyang, she attended the same elementary school as her brother in Switerzland for four years. During that time, they lived in a private home with security guards, living in seclusion in a democratic country. That's really all that we know about her youth. No one even knows her exact age. Physically, she's slender, extremely gracious in appearance, and pleasant. She was relatively unknown to the world until she was photographed at her father's funeral in 2011. Since then, she's made more public appearances, including the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

what we know about  Kim Yo Jong (Kim Jong-un sister)
Photo by Pool/Getty Images

It's believed she's around 31-years-old, and as Harry J. Kazianis, the senior director of Korean Studies at the Washington D.C- based think tank the Center for the National Interest, tells TIME, "She is, as best we can tell, a very capable and high-skilled member of the North Korean leadership—and is not one to underestimated by any stretch of the imagination." She's married to Choe Song, the son of Choe Ryong Hae, who's "one of the most powerful officials in [North Korea's] formal hierarchy."

what we know about  Kim Yo Jong (Kim Jong-un sister)
Bruce Bennett / Staff


In her professional life, she's the Vice Director of the Worker's Party of Korea Propaganda and Agitation Department that responsible for censorship in North Korea. In government, she's known at the brains and true power behind Kim Jong-un's regime. The regime is more of a family business as she's been labeled the "Ivanka Trump of North Korea." Though no one knows for sure about the fate of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, one thing is for certain, his successor will be made of the same cloth.