Kim Yo-jong is an influential political figure in North Korea. She is the younger sister of Kim Jong-un, the Supreme Leader of North Korea since 2011. Kim Yo-jong is considered the most powerful woman in North Korea.
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Kim Yo-jong was born on September 26, 1989 (age 30 years; as in 2019) while according to South Korea’s intelligence service, she was born on September 26, 1987 (age 32 years; as in 2019) in Pyongyang, North Korea. The Washington Post Kim Yo-jong, along with her siblings, was raised in relative isolation from the rest of the family, likely due to her father Kim Jong Il’s efforts to keep them away from his father. Newsweek Reportedly, she was brought up primarily in her mother, Ko Yong-hui’s residence on Ch’angkwang Hill in central Pyongyang. North Korea Leadership Watch From the spring of 1996 until December 2000, she attended Liebefeld-Steinhölzli public school, which is a private elementary school in Berne, Switzerland along with her brother Kim Jong-un. The Washington Post
In the late 2000s, she returned to North Korea; after completing the US equivalent of sixth grade. North Korea Leadership Watch After her return from Switzerland to North Korea, she studied Computer Science at the Kim Il-sung Military University, North Korea. Korea Joongang Daily
Height (approx.): 5′ 4″
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Black
Family & Ethnicity
Kim Yo-jong belongs to a royal Korean family having East Asian ethnicity.
Parents & Siblings
Kim Yo-jong was born to Kim Jong-il, the second Supreme Leader of North Korea who died on December 17, 2011, and Ko Yong-hui, an ethnic Korean dancer who was born in Japan and died on August 13, 2004. Newsweek
Her mother moved to North Korea after a decade of three-year-long war between North Korea and U.S.-backed South Korea.
Kim Jong-il was already married when he first met Ko Yong-hui and also had one son, Kim Jong-nam (half-brother of Kim Yo-jong), and one daughter, Kim Sol-song (half-sister of Kim Yo-jong); both from separate women. Newsweek
Kim Yo-jong is believed to be the youngest child of her parents; her elder brothers are – Kim Jong-chul (guitarist) and Kim Jong-un (the Supreme Leader of North Korea).
Relationships, Husband & Children
Although there is no concrete piece of information about her marital status, some Japanese and South Korean tabloids have reported that Kim Yo-jong is married to a finance official who is the son of senior official Choe Ryong Hae and that they might have at least one child. According to another report, she is unmarried and has no child. There is also one report, which says that once she fell in love with a bodyguard. The Washington Post
Entry in Politics
Reportedly, Kim Yo-jong showed political potential at an early age. Soon after her return to North Korea from Switzerland, her father, Kim Jong-il, in 2002, proudly told foreign interlocutors that his youngest daughter (Yo Jong) was interested in politics and wanted a career in North Korea’s political system. North Korea Leadership Watch Konstantin Pulikovsky, a Russian envoy who had frequent visits to North Korea during the Kim Jong-il regime, also noticed her interest and aptitude in politics. Between 2007 and 2008, she worked under her father and her aunt, Kim Kyong Hui; as a junior cadre in the central party. When her father had a stroke in September 2008, she joined her father’s entourage of close aides and attended his on-site visits with her aunt. In May 2009, Kim Yo-jong visited Wo’nsan University of Agriculture along with her father, Kim Jong-il and brother Kim Jong-un. After her father’s death in 2011, and her brother, Kim Jong-un’s accession as the Supreme Leader of South Korea, she went on to serve in different capacities to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
First Public Appearance
In September 2010, South Korean media identified a woman as Kim Yo-jong at a photo session at the 3rd conference of the WPK. In the photo, she was reportedly spotted standing next to her father’s technical secretary and fifth consort, Kim Ok. North Korea Leadership Watch Her next appearance was at her father, Kim Jong-il’s funeral at the end of 2011 where she was spotted bowing at her father’s casket.
In the Footsteps of Her Aunt
Just like her aunt, Kim Kyong-hui who was promoted to help her brother, Kim Yo-jong has also remained busy helping her brother, Kim Jong-un.
In a 2012 North Korea’s state television broadcast, she was spotted riding a horse with her aunt, Kim Kyong Hui.
Later, Kim Kyong Hui disappeared from the public eye; after her husband, Jang Song Thaek was executed for trying to overthrow Kim Jong-un. Reportedly, in 2017, Kim Yo-jong replaced her aunt as a member of the powerful political bureau of the ruling Workers’ Party. The Washington Post
Behind-the-Scenes Work For Her Father & Brother
By 2011, Kim Yo-jong had become a regular member of her father’s entourage. It is also speculated that she might have accompanied her father to his China visit in May 2011 and on his tour to Russia and China in August 2011. Since her brother, Kim Jong-un’s accession to the Supreme Leader of North Korea, she has been constantly involved in almost all his public affairs.
Being the deputy director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea, she always tries to present her brother as a strong leader. Reportedly, Kim Jong-un considers Kim Yo-jong as his most trustworthy aide.
First To Visit South Korea
Since her visit at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Kim Yo-jong has become an international figure. It was a first by any member of the ruling Kim family to ever cross into South Korea, which was seen as an effort to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. She also became the first member of the Kim family to meet the South Korean President, Moon Jae-in. Reportedly, she stayed in South Korea for three days. The Washington Post
Can She Become North Korea’s Leader?
Although in a male-dominated North Korea that adheres to Confucian-hierarchy it’s almost impossible for her to become the Supreme Leader, from time-to-time, the speculations become ripe that she could ascend the throne after her brother, Kim Jong-un. The Washington Post When in April 2020, various reports claimed that Kim Jong-un was seriously ill, Kim Yo-jong’s name again became the talk of the town in popular media; projecting her as the next leader of North Korea.
- When Kim Yo-jong was born, North Korea was still led by North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, who died in 1994.
- According to sources, her father, Kim Jong-il, used to call her “sweet, sweet Yo Jong” and “Princess Yo Jong.” The Washington Post
- Following her mother’s death in 2004, Kim Yo-jong got herself enrolled in a course at a western European university.
- While studying Computer Science at the Kim Il-sung Military University in North Korea, Kim Yo-jong became close friends with Kim Un-gyong, the only daughter of the Japanese abductee to North Korea, Megumi Yokota who, at the age of 13, was abducted to North Korea from Niigata Prefecture, Japan, on her way home from junior high school in 1977. Later, Kim Yo-jong recommended her at a core organization in Pyongyang and since then, both have reportedly been working together at close quarters of the Supreme Leader of North Korea. Korea Joongang Daily
- According to the school officials in Switzerland where she did her schooling, she was so protected by a crew of guards that once when she had a mild cold in the school, they rushed her immediately to the hospital. BBC
- Reportedly, during her schooling in Switzerland, she lived in a modest apartment under the name “Kim Yo’ng-sun.” North Korea Leadership Watch According to another source, at that time, she went by the alias Pak Mi Hyang. The Washington Post
- During her stay in Switzerland, Kim Yo-jong is thought to have enjoyed ballet lessons.
- She also loves horse riding and is often spotted enjoying this hobby.
- On her birthdays, she would wear a Korean People’s Army [KPA] dress uniform, and she used to get her birthday present only after greeting her father. North Korea Leadership Watch
- Her eldest brother, Kim Jong-chul is a guitarist and a huge fan of Eric Clapton, an English rock and blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Newsweek
- In March 2020, she praised US President Donald Trump for his advances to strengthen the bilateral relations between the United States and North Korea.
- She is often termed as the “Ivanka of North Korea” in popular media.