STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Kim Yo Jong: The most powerful woman in North Korea

She was the face of the North Korean delegation at the Winter Olympics in the South this year, and now she has a seat...

Posted: Jun 11, 2018 1:10 PM
Updated: Jun 11, 2018 1:10 PM

She was the face of the North Korean delegation at the Winter Olympics in the South this year, and now she has a seat at the table for the most significant peace talks between the two nations in decades.

Kim Yo Jong sat beside her older brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as the only woman among six delegates as Friday's historic inter-Korean talks got underway.

While she diligently took notes as her brother spoke and sought no moment in the spotlight, the 30-year-old has been widely seen as instrumental in making the summit happen.

It was Kim, as the first member of the North's ruling dynasty to visit the South since the Korean War ended in an armistice in 1953, who delivered a message to the South for a desired detente at the Olympics.

And it was Kim who personally delivered a letter on her brother's behalf to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, as communications resumed between the nations.

Kim's profile has been steadily rising since 2014, when she given the key regime role of deputy director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers' Party.

Her position is such that, according to a Seoul-based think tank run by North Korean defectors, Kim Yo Jong briefly took charge of the country while her brother was reportedly ill with gout or diabetes in late 2014.

Kim Jong Un's 'gatekeeper'

But Kim's acts of public diplomacy are highly choreographed, and, like most members of the Kim clan, little is definitively known about her or her motivations, beyond her official duties.

Born in 1987, Kim studied in Switzerland like her brother, and is believed to have attended Kim Il Sung University and a European school for her higher education.

She is believed to be the youngest of seven siblings their father, Kim Jong Il, had with four women. Many of them are half-siblings, but Kim shares the same mother with the North Korean leader.

Kim was always close to her father, and after returning from Switzerland she was appointed to positions of responsibility in the government, according to Michael Madden, who runs the blog North Korea Leadership Watch.

She would act as an advance-team leader, inspecting sites before official visits and taking on administrative duties.

Under her brother's leadership, Kim has taken on more responsibility, dealing with policy, receiving intelligence briefings and acting "almost like a White House chief of staff would," said Madden.

She was promoted to the country's Politburo, the senior body of North Korea's communist party, as an alternate member last year. According to North Korea Leadership Watch, she is a close aide of her brother's "and since his accession manages his public events, itineraries and logistical needs, among other tasks."

She is now among her brother's top 20 officials, and is seen as something of a gatekeeper to the leader, according to analysts.

"She's probably one of the most influential people on Kim Jong Un himself, precisely because he has very few people he can trust," said Balbina Hwang, visiting professor at Georgetown University and founder of the National Committee on North Korea.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 32078

Reported Deaths: 2004
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9268539
Lake3320168
Cass15826
Allen130966
St. Joseph120534
Hendricks113067
Hamilton111592
Johnson1086104
Elkhart105728
Madison58258
Porter49021
Bartholomew48133
Clark46138
LaPorte41522
Tippecanoe3753
Jackson3671
Howard36519
Delaware35735
Hancock32127
Shelby31521
Floyd31438
Boone28835
Morgan26224
Vanderburgh2482
Montgomery23117
White2268
Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Grant19121
Noble18921
Harrison18721
Dubois1852
Greene16724
Warrick16426
Dearborn16421
Henry1619
Monroe16011
Vigo1477
Lawrence14423
Miami1391
Putnam1337
Jennings1274
Orange12422
Scott1183
Ripley1126
Franklin1068
Kosciusko941
Carroll922
Daviess8216
Steuben802
Marshall761
Newton7410
Wabash722
Wayne715
Fayette684
LaGrange602
Jasper581
Washington521
Fulton471
Rush452
Jay440
Randolph433
Jefferson411
Whitley402
Pulaski390
Clay391
Owen341
Brown331
Sullivan321
Starke313
DeKalb311
Perry260
Huntington262
Knox250
Tipton251
Benton250
Wells240
Crawford230
Blackford211
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Spencer171
Posey170
Parke170
Gibson142
Ohio130
Warren121
Adams121
Vermillion90
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0154

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 113195

Reported Deaths: 4923
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook738193354
Lake7767250
DuPage7290340
Kane5866153
Will5238258
Winnebago199351
McHenry145268
St. Clair101773
Kankakee80242
Kendall72719
Rock Island63922
Champaign5697
Madison54056
Boone40716
Sangamon33226
DeKalb3313
Randolph2593
Jackson22810
McLean21210
Stephenson1952
Ogle1922
Macon18819
Peoria1858
Clinton17816
Out of IL1771
Union1417
LaSalle14013
Whiteside13310
Iroquois1314
Unassigned1200
Coles1159
Warren1140
Jefferson10116
Knox950
Monroe9211
Grundy892
McDonough835
Lee761
Tazewell683
Cass670
Henry670
Williamson541
Marion500
Jasper457
Adams441
Macoupin421
Perry410
Pulaski400
Montgomery391
Vermilion391
Morgan341
Christian334
Livingston312
Douglas280
Jo Daviess270
Fayette203
Ford201
Jersey201
Washington180
Woodford182
Mason170
Menard170
Shelby161
Bureau151
Hancock150
Mercer150
Carroll132
Franklin120
Piatt120
Crawford110
Fulton110
Bond101
Brown100
Clark100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Moultrie100
Schuyler100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Effingham61
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Edgar00
Terre Haute
Broken Clouds
67° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 67°
Robinson
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 67°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 69°
Rockville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 64°
Casey
Broken Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 68°
Brazil
Broken Clouds
67° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 67°
Marshall
Broken Clouds
67° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 67°
No Major Changes
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events