Kim Jong-un's Sister at His Side as He Resurfaces

  • By Kim Myong-song

    May 04, 2020 12:47

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reappeared for the first time in 21 days on May 1, quelling premature reports of his death, with his sister Yo-jong by his side. They cut the ribbon on a fertilizer plant in Sunchon north of Pyongyang.

    Kim Yo-jong recently cemented her position as her brother's second-in-command by being reappointed as "alternate" member of the politburo. She had nominally lost the post in a face-saving exercise after the second U.S.-North Korea summit collapsed in 2018. 

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (3rd from right) and his sister Kim Yo-jong (5th from right) open a fertilizer plant in Sunchon, South Pyongan Province on May 1, in this grab from [North] Korean Central Television the following day.

    Photos and videos released by North Korean state media show Yo-jong with her trademark pinched scowl, wearing a black skirt-suit and bangs as she assists her brother in cutting the ribbon.

    She was mentioned fifth among senior officials in the reports in the highly status-conscious state media but actually sat in the chair for the third-highest official.

    Cho Han-bum at the Korea Institute for National Unification said, "Kim Yo-jong now seems to be the de facto No. 2 in the regime."

    Hyon Song-wol (center), an apparatchik and the leader of the Samjiyon Orchestra, assists North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (right) during a ceremony to mark the completion of a fertilizer plant in Sunchon, South Pyongan Province on May 1, in this grab from [North] Korean Central Television the following day.
    Hyon Song-wol, an apparatchik and the leader of the Samjiyon Orchest, was also shown at the ceremony attending to Kim Jong-un. She pulled back a chair for him when he got on a podium. Hyon had sometimes been described as an ex-girlfriend of Kim's, but the exact reason for her prominence in the operetta hierarchy in unclear.

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