News broke Friday morning, that two of the most powerful men in the world — Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader of North Korea, and Moon Jae-in, the president of South Korea — were conducting historic peace talks. These talks come 73 years after the two countries separated, and reports indicate that the watershed summit was helped along by Kim Jong Un’s little sister, Kim Yo Jung.
As vice director of the Workers’ Party of Korea Propaganda and Agitation Department, Kim Yo Jong (who is believed to be 30) is one of North Korean leader Kim’s most trusted aides and the youngest of his siblings. She reportedly went to school in Switzerland and attended college in Europe, and according to CNN, serves as an adviser to her brother’s regime, even ruling the country briefly while Kim Jong Un suffered from reported gout or diabetes in 2014.
On Friday, during the Inter-Korean Summit at the Peace House in South Korea, she was the only woman at the table and sat next to the North Korean leader, taking notes. She handed her brother a pen to sign a guestbook and, according to the U.K.’s Independent, she blushed when South Korean president Moon Jae-in called her a “celebrity” for appearing at February’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. According to CNN, Kim Yo Jong had a big hand in the orchestration of the summit: “It was Kim who personally delivered a letter on her brother’s behalf to South Korean President Moon Jae-in as communications resumed between the nations.”
At the Games, Kim Yo Jong was the first member of the Kim regime to enter South Korea, meeting with Moon Jae-in and sitting behind Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, though there was no contact between Kim Yo Jong and the couple. “I didn’t avoid the dictator’s sister, but I did ignore her,” Pence said of the awkward encounter. “I didn’t believe it was proper for the United States of America to give any countenance or attention in that forum to someone who’s not merely the sister of the dictator but is the leader of the propaganda effort.”
“In North Korea, it’s unusual for women to hold high office unless they’re family members,” Clark Sorensen, associate professor and chair of the Korea Studies program at the University of Washington, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “What’s different about Kim Yo Jong is that her role is quite public. She’s also a subject of fascination in South Korea because she has social skills and she’s good-looking. People often compare her to Ivanka Trump.”
Kim Yo Jung is becoming known not only for her government role and for being her brother’s warm and fuzzy counterpart, but also for her wardrobe, which is considered chic by North Korean standards. “Unlike North Korea’s previous leader, Kim Jong Il, [Kim] Jong Un (his son) wants to support consumer economy, so under his regime women are dressing more fashionably,” says Sorensen. “He’s more cosmopolitan, having gone to middle school in Switzerland.”
Kim Yo Jong also acts as her brother’s press secretary. “She has access to anything that goes to Kim Jong Un’s desk,” Michael Madden, the director of research company NK Leadership Watch, told Time. “If you want to get hold of Kim Jong Un and you’re a North Korean, maybe you should befriend Kim Yo Jong.” According to the U.K.’s Guardian, she organizes his public appearances to theme parks and schools and is even responsible for his friendship with NBA star Dennis Rodman.
She’s also reportedly married. According to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, she wed Choe Song, the son of North Korean politician Choe Ryong Hae, in 2014.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
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- The 2 things North Korea’s Kim Yo Jong and Ivanka Trump have in common