Thursday 16 August 2018

Kim's sister takes another step into limelight at Korea talks

Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong. Photo: Getty Images
Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong. Photo: Getty Images

Nicola Smith

North Korea's delegation to an inter-Korean summit today will include leader Kim Jong-un's sister, one of his closest advisers, Seoul said.

It is the latest high-profile appearance for Kim Yo-jong after she attended the Winter Olympics in the South in February as Mr Kim's envoy.

The North's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam will also be part of today's group.

Ms Kim was the first member of her family to visit South Korea since the 1950-53 Korean War, amid moves by both sides to try to revive communication and perhaps end the standoff over its nuclear programme.

For many in South Korea, the Kim Yo-jong sideshow eclipsed the glamour of the Olympics. For Ms Kim, her surprise first international appearance confirmed her star was on the rise.

Believed to be about 30, she is no longer lurking in the shadows of her elder brother. Now she has been entrusted to represent the regime on his behalf and to stand by his side at the biggest diplomatic event between the two Koreas in years.

As the youngest child of former leader Kim Jong-il, she was first spotted at his funeral in 2011. Analysts then struggled for years to establish the identity of the young woman who moved freely behind Kim Jong-un at major public events.

It emerged they shared the same Japanese-born mother, Ko Yong-hui. According to the 'Washington Post', Japanese sushi chef Kenji Fujimoto said Kim Jong-il doted on his daughter, calling her "Princess Yo-jong".

The siblings are believed to be particularly close because they attended the same private school in Switzerland at the same time.

She appeared to move closer to the reclusive regime's centre of power after her uncle, Jang Song-thaek, was executed and her once powerful aunt, Kim Kyong-hui, disappeared from public view in 2013.

In recent years she has been tasked with more serious matters of state. As a senior figure in the regime's powerful propaganda department, she attempted to craft her brother's image as a benevolent leader. She drew global attention again late last year when she was promoted to the ruling politburo, the country's top decision-making body.

Ms Kim had lunch with South Korean president Moon Jae-in during the Olympics and personally delivered her brother's invitation to a landmark summit "at the earliest date possible". After much negotiation, that historic meeting is taking place today in the Demilitarised Zone. (© Daily Telegraph London)

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