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Believed to be in her early 30s, Kim Yo Jong is the only close relative of the North Korean leader to play a public role in politics. Kim Yo Jung has moved to the forefront since her brother’s mysterious disappearance last month. And now she has unleashed a brutal attack on neighbours South Korea, just after the rogue state severed contact with Seoul. Kim Yo-jong’s statement said: “On May 31, I heard a report that so-called ‘defectors from the North’ scattered hundreds of thousands of anti-DPRK leaflets into the areas of our side from the frontline areas.
“What matters is that those human scum hardly worth their value as human beings had the temerity of faulting our supreme leadership and citing ‘nuclear issue’.
“I wonder if the world knows what kind of riff-raffs those foolish ‘defectors from the North’ are. It is the height of irony. Those fools who are almost illiterate wanted to talk about ‘nuclear issue’ though they know no concept about it.
“This is like a ‘shop-boy near a temple chanting a sutra untaught’. Human scum little short of wild animals who betrayed their own homeland are engrossed in such unbecoming acts to imitate men.
“They are sure to be called mongrel dogs are doing others harm, it is time to bring their owner to account. I would like to ask South Korean authorities if they are ready to take care of the consequences of evil conduct done by the rubbish-like mongrel dogs who took no scruple to slander us while faulting the ‘nuclear issue’ in the meanest way at the most untimely time.”
The latest comments, and the change in tact from the rogue state will fuel conspiracy theories Kim Jong-un’s reappearance was in fact a double.
Fears have long surrounded his sister as a more hardline figure and the new strategy over South Korea support claims of a takeover.
During the 2018-2019 flurry of international diplomacy, Kim Yo Jong garnered global attention by leading a delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Later, she was often seen dashing about to make sure everything went well for her older brother, including holding an ashtray for him at a train station on his way to a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Vietnam.
But this year, Kim has taken on a more public policy role, cementing her status as an influential political player in her own right.
Rachel Minyoung Lee, a former North Korea open source intelligence analyst in the US government, said: “Prior to this, Kim Yo Jong was portrayed in state media as Kim Jong Un’s sister, his protocol officer, or one of his accompanying officials.
“Now, North Koreans know for sure there is more to her than that.”
Kim has worked behind the scenes in North Korea’s propaganda agencies, a role that led the United States to add her to a list of sanctioned senior officials in 2017 because of human rights abuses and censorship.
In March, state media carried the first ever statement by Kim, in which she criticised South Korean authorities. That was followed by several more, including a response to comments by Trump, and last week, a warning that the North would cut communications with South Korea.
Lee said Kim’s statements have a unique style, showcasing her wit and underscoring her powerful position.
Lee said: ”In addition to the harsh words and sarcasm, they can be bitingly witty in ways that the other statements are not.
“She seems to have more leeway in crafting her statements, which of course is not surprising.”
When state media announced on Tuesday that the hotlines between North and South Korea would be severed, they said Kim Yo Jong and a longtime hard-liner, Kim Yong Chol, championed the decision at a meeting.
This rare explanation of a policymaking process portrayed Kim Yo Jong as “a very substantive person,” said Michael Madden, a North Korea leadership expert at the Stimson Centre, a US-based think tank.
Madden said this new portrayal of Kim in state media may be a subtle dig at international analysts who have cast doubts on her ability to wield influence in the North’s male-dominated society.
He said: ”They clearly have high hopes and expectations for her.
“Not necessarily the next leader, but something of a king maker nonetheless.”
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