How Does Twisted Sister View Kim Yo Jong’s Global Influence?

Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is a subject of little known information. She may have been born in 1987 or 1989 and studied in Switzerland as a child with her brother. Her family has not left much of a paper trail, but some splenetic statements about the United States and South Korea from the country’s Propaganda and Agitation Department have been attributed to her. In August 2022, North Korean television broadcast her first speech, reporting on her brother’s case of COVID and lashing out at her country’s enemies.

In 2018, she traveled to South Korea to attend the opening of the Winter Olympics and met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Lee Sung-Yoon, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, has dedicated a book to her, detailing her participation in U.S.-North Korean summits in 2018 and 2019, her brother’s meeting with Putin in 2023, and U.S. diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.

Lee attempts to build a case that Kim Yo Jong is “the most dangerous woman in the world” and that she may well take over the helm of the country. However, his efforts to play up the importance of his subject lead him into subtle distortions. The cover of the book shows a half-profile of an unsmiling Kim Yo Jong, with the rest of her face concealed by a block of red on the right side of the cover. This representation conceals a more serious transformation, making her look disheveled and maniacal.

Kim Yo Jong, the sister of Kim Jong Un, is portrayed as a stolid and unsmiling North Korean official in a book. This portrayal is justified if the book reveals Kim’s demonically powerful nature, as she is close to her brother and has been known to say unpleasant things about the U.S. and South Korea. However, the book also raises questions about Kim’s ability to manipulate South Korean politicians into obeying her will.

One example is the passage of a South Korean law restricting the actions of North Korea human rights activists. The author argues that Kim has charmed and bullied South Korean politicians into obeying her will, combining her talents as a dominatrix and a diplomat. However, the book fails to consider the fact that South Korean officials changed policy in response to Kim Yo Jong and that this policy change amounted to an exceptional human rights violation for an advanced democracy.

The policy change in question was the ban on the flying of propaganda balloons into North Korea in December 2020. The author neglects to mention that arguments about these balloons, which often contain Bibles, anti-government flyers, dollars, and thumb drives with South Korean videos, had long been taking place in South Korea. In 2014, both the ruling party and the opposition agreed that the launches were provocative and to be avoided, but how to avoid them remained a point of contention.

The book by Lee discusses the dangerous balloon launches that North Korea has been engaging in, as well as the potential human rights violations resulting from these activities. The author argues that South Korea’s legislature had reasons to pass the bill, which was not related to Kim Yo Jong and her threats. The book also questions whether the balloon activists were engaged in regime-change efforts that endangered the recipients of their messages and the governmental level’s efforts to reduce inter-Korean tensions.

Lee also argues that the fate of the hereditary dictatorship may still lie in Kim Jong Un’s hands, but this is theoretically possible due to Kim Jong Un’s three children and the patriarchal nature of the North Korean system. He also dismisses the notion that fear of regime change dominates the thinking of North Korean officials, stating that the Kim rulers have never had any real concern about an imminent U.S. attack.

North Korean leaders often use the U.S. bombing of Belgrade during the Kosovo war and the removal of Muammar Qaddafi in Libya as cautionary tales. The most significant distortion of the book is its portrayal of South Korean and U.S. diplomats as consistently duped by North Korea. While North Koreans have proven to be cagey negotiators, they have excelled at using the weapons of the weak to make the best of a bad situation. Engagement between North and South is not only about official conflict de-escalation but also about helping ordinary North Koreans with humanitarian assistance and running programs that promote people-to-people contact.

Kim Yo Jong, a prominent Party functionary with a powerful bloodline, faces gender constraints and global influence limitations. Kim Yo Jong’s life and ideology are less mysterious after reading Lee’s book, which highlights the importance of not underestimating her and not presenting her as a demonic puppet master controlling the fate of the Korean peninsula or the world.

How Does Twisted Sister View Kim Yo Jong's Global Influence?Kim Yo JongNorth KoreaNorth Korean leader Kim Jong-un