A North Korean expert discussed with Fox News Digital why Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong is “the most dangerous woman in the world” after her surprise appearance in Russia last week.
“I submit that Kim Yo Jong today is indeed the most dangerous woman in the world in all of Korean history, perhaps world history,” said Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor at the Fletcher School at Tufts University.
“Although she is relatively young – she turns 36 at the end of September – she is a woman who naturally brings a softer image to the brutal, chauvinistic, male-dominated facade of her nation,” he said. “We have to take her very seriously.”
Lee is the author of “The Sister,” which follows Yo Jong’s rise to power as the “de-facto deputy” of the hermit kingdom’s supreme leader.
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Kim Yo Jong made her first public appearance in 2011 with her father, Kim Jong Il, but remained largely a background figure until she appeared at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018. Then, months later accompanied her brother to a historic summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
She recently accompanied her brother to Russia for the summit with Vladimir Putin, visiting the Vostochny cosmodrome before the two leaders met.
Analysts have identified Kim Yo-yong as her brother’s potential successor, and Lee believes she can serve as regent for her brother’s rumored children until they are old enough to take power — even if that creates some tension.
Lee admitted that if there is “any tension with the aunt”, then she will “remember the bitter, cold winter of 2013 when she and her brother executed their uncle”.
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Kim Yo Jong and her brother appear to have been working together more and more over the years, starting with the murder of their uncle who had ‘half-heartedly applauded’ while in the presence of the supreme leader – just one of many crimes for which accused the state media of using an “arrogant” action that caused “strong resentment of our service personnel and people”.
After her public debut abroad in South Korea, she made bold statements on behalf of her brother and his government – at least 40 written statements, as well as ordering the destruction of a joint liaison office located on North Korean soil.
Lee explained that this vested power is particularly troubling as it likely gives her authority – even jointly with her brother – over the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal, which she alluded to in a few statements last year when she threatened South Korea if it “fires even one bullet inside North Korea’s territory.”
“We have never seen this in North Korea, in Korean history, in world history, a female liaison – female co-leader of a criminal regime – issuing nuclear threats and saying I have the authority to nuke you, a peaceful, democratic neighboring state in South Korea,” Lee said.
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Researching a subject from one of the most secretive nations on the planet proved difficult, but Lee worked through the “great difficulty” with the help of graduate students to research “every reference to Kim Yo Jong” in Chinese exhibitions, even in Taiwan . official statements from North Korea and “hundreds of hours” of North Korean videos.
“From all these North Korean videos and footage and statements and so on, I see Kim Yo-yong occupying a uniquely powerful position in the hierarchy of her nation,” Lee said. “I’ve also interviewed a lot of people who have known her and I’ve been able to gather some insights into her personality and so on, but I will admit that there are limitations to my book and the study of North Korea in general.”
His research yielded interesting findings, such as the tension arising from a strong female leader in a strongly “chauvinistic, male-dominated culture and society,” which Lee argued would come “second to maintaining dominance within the royal family.”
“North Korea itself, its existence is shocking because it is such a unique country — so unique, so different, so unconventional that I often refer to North Korea as uniquely unique,” Lee said. “North Korea is really different.”
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Lee speculated that North Korea could arm Kim Yo Jong by sending her to meetings with the president or to the United Nations, which would make it difficult for those governing bodies to accept her or appear “burdensome” to the the fact that she is a woman. consolidates its power and influence.
“When she says, ‘OK, let’s talk about denuclearization or normalizing diplomatic relations,’ many of us will be inclined to want to believe her just because she’s a woman,” he said. “Well, she’s ambitious, she’s smart, she’s ruthless, and as such, we should take her very seriously and not patronize her.”