With KJU Reportedly Gravely Ill, Mysterious Sister Poised to Take Over


Among reports of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s declining health, sources believe his younger sister could take over if he dies.

If the North Korean leader dies, his younger sister Kim Yo Jong is reported to be his likely successor, Taiwan News reported. The 32-year-old is believed to be the daughter of Kim Jong Il’s mistress, Ko Yung Hui.

Reports of Kim Jong Un’s health have conflicted recently, with some saying he is in critical condition following a cardiovascular procedure on April 12, CNN reported.

Japanese magazine Shukan Gendai reported Saturday that the operation left the North Korean leader in a “vegetative state,” citing a member of his medical team, according to Fox News.

Public speculation about Kim’s health began after he missed the “Day of the Sun” celebration on April 15 in honor of his grandfather’s birthday.

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China dispatched a team of medical experts to give advice on Kim Jong Un’s condition, but Reuters could not immediately determine what the trip might indicate regarding Kim’s prognosis.

South Korean officials reported Tuesday that North Korea was displaying “no usual developments” and that Kim was handling state affairs as usual.

“We have no information to confirm regarding rumors about Chairman Kim Jong Un’s health issue that have been reported by some media outlets,” South Korean presidential spokesman Kang Min-seok said, according to Fox News. “Also, no unusual developments have been detected inside North Korea.”

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said the United States was “monitoring these reports very closely.”

Do you think a woman could become supreme leader in North Korea?

The elder Kim’s mistress, Ko, is also the mother of Kim Jong Un and his two older brothers. His brother Kim Jong Nam was assassinated in 2017, allegedly at Kim Jong Un’s command, and Kim Jong Chul is believed be uninvolved in politics.

Kim Jong Un and Kim Yo Jong studied in Switzerland together from 1996 to 2000 and developed a close bond.

Kim Yo Jong became a junior cadre in the Korean Worker’s Party in 2007 and has unsurprisingly risen through the ranks after her brother became supreme leader in 2011.

She currently serves as the first vice-department director of the Korean Worker’s Party Central Committee and gained international attention by representing her country at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Kim Yo Jong
Kim Yo Jong attends the women’s ice hockey preliminary match between Korea and Switzerland during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Kwandong Hockey Centre on Feb. 10, 2018, in Gangneung, Pyeongchang, South Korea. (Jean Catuffe / Getty Images)
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Kim Yo Jong issued her first public statement in March in response to South Korea’s protests of North Korea’s firing of two short-range missiles.

She called the launches an “action for self-defense” that was “not aimed to threaten anybody.”

Despite her increased visibility, many experts have doubts about a woman becoming the leader of the communist country with strong Confucian traditions.

Experts told VICE News that if Kim Yo Jong does take power, it does not mean she will soften her country’s foreign policy.

“It’s entirely possible that Ms. Kim will prove even more tyrannical than her brother or father or grandfather,” said Sung Yoon Lee, a Korean expert at The Fletcher School at Tufts University. “She will also have to show her mettle by provoking the U.S. with major weapons tests and lethal attacks on South Korea and U.S. forces stationed there.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith