Kim Jong-un’s sister faces huge challenges if she succeeds him, says expert

However, Roy Calley, whose book Look With Your Eyes and Tell the World chronicles his trips to the Hermit State, believes her family connections means she can overcome barriers imposed by the male-orientated society to take her place at the top. The 36-year-old Supreme Leader has not been seen in public for weeks, with numerous media organisations suggesting he was either dead as a result of botched cardiovascular surgery, in a vegetative state, or alternatively alive and well.

North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho, who has said he is “99 percent certain” Kim is dead, told Yonhap News Agency he was anticipating an announcement this weekend – echoing a suggestion by Mr Calley earlier this week that confirmation may be imminent.

Kim Yo-jong, meanwhile is becoming increasingly influential within her brother’s inner circle of advisers, Seoul-based think tank National Assembly Research Services suggested this week, and is widely regarded as the leading candidate to replace him.

Mr Calley told Express.co.uk such a move would not be without its difficulties.

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He said: “Women are very much second best in the country.

“That was brought home to me on many occasions, even in such a simple way when I offered a lady a seat on the bus I was travelling on, and the men looked at me in shock and she was very surprised in a pleasant way.

“In the country they work as hard as the men ploughing the fields etc.

“Having said that, in Pyongyang a female can become very successful if she is pretty.

“Traffic warden is an extremely important job and the women have total authority when on duty, plus the majority of the tourist guides are women who speak numerous languages fluently.”

Nevertheless, Mr Calley said the difficulties in a country “totally geared up to male dominance” were obvious.

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The Kim dynasty is revered, so the fact that she’s female won’t be a problem in my opinion

Roy Calley

He added: “A woman leaves her family completely when she gets married and moves in with her husband’s family until they qualify for a house or apartment.

“Not to be married by the age of 30 is unusual in their society.”

However, he said: “I don’t see a problem in the sister becoming the new leader, although I’ll be interested to see what she’s going to be called.

“The Kim dynasty is revered, so the fact that she’s female won’t be a problem in my opinion.”

Kim Yo-jong is believed to have been born to Kim Jong-il, the so-called Dear Leader, and his wife Ko Yong-hui on September 26, 1987.

In November 2014, she was reported to be working as First Deputy Director of the Workers Party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department.

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She came to prominence in February 2018, when she attended the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

It marked the first time a member of the ruling Kim dynasty had visited South Korea since the Korean War.

She also accompanied her brother Kim during the 2018 North Korea–United States Singapore Summit and the 2019 North Korea–United States Hanoi Summit, at which he met US President Donald Trump.

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