As questions surrounding North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s possible death reach a fever pitch, Kim Yo Jong—the disappearing ruler’s sister and close confidante—takes the spotlight and, maybe, the top job.
While it’s not unusual for him to disappear from the public eye for even weeks at a time, speculation has mounted that the leader, who has a history of health problems, is either dead or gravely ill.
While she rocketed to international attention during the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Yo Jong (like many in her family) is a somewhat mysterious figure, with basic details like her exact age (somewhere in her early thirties), unconfirmed by the North Korean government.
A favorite of her late father Kim Jong Il, she attended school in Switzerland. She is smart, calculating, and who knows how much power she has been able to build working in the shadows?
Among the North’s power elite, Kim Yo Jong has the highest chance to inherit power, and I think that possibility is more than 90%,” an analyst told the Associated Press.
However, she’s not the only one who may be jockeying for the promotion, and the country’s patriarchal structure may undercut her chances. Some speculate that a collective leadership spearheaded by ceremonial head of state Choe Ryong Hae may be implemented, ending the Kim family’s dynastic reign.
Kim Yo Jong may serve only as a temporary leader in the interim. And of course, any replacement hinges on Kim Jong Un’s actual death or incapacitation, which is still unknown.
Kim’s last official public appearance was April 11, where according to North Korean state media reports, he held a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party committee of policymakers.
Forbes / ABC Flash Point News 2020.