North Korean elections: Leader Kim Jong-un's sister makes public debut as government official

Kim Yo-Jong was seen casting her ballot at the elections on Sunday

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The Independent Online

The younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has made her first public appearance as a government official during the staged North Korean elections on Sunday.

Kim Yo-Jong was seen with her brother outside a polling station in one image, and casting her ballot in a second, during the election in which Kim won 100 per cent of votes with no abstentions, the South China Morning Post reported.

The woman who is thought to be 26 years-old, also appeared on state television in 2011 at the funeral of her and Kim's father, former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, as well during trips with her brother.

Her appearance on Sunday was the first where she was officially listed by her name as a “senior official”. It is believed she is the events director in Kim Jong-un’s Secretariat Office.


Ahn Chan-il, head of Seoul-based World Institute for North Korea Studies, told the newspaper that it is likely Kim Yo-jong will now take up the supportive role previously held by her aunt Kim Hyong-hui, who is believed to be seriously ill at an overseas hospital.

Hyong-hui was pictured with Yo-Jong on state television riding a white horse, a symbol of the Kim dynasty, in 2012.

67-year-old Hyong-hui and her husband Jang Song-thaek were understood to be the power behind Kim Jong-un’s government, before the latter was executed last year. 

“Kim Jong-un and Kim Yo-jong will work in a similar way as their father and Kim Kyong-hui did in securing the future of the Kim dynasty,” Ahn said.

“And Kim Kyong-hui will eventually leave official life as part of the power shift within the family,” he added.

Kim-Yo-Jongballot.jpgThe elections which Yo-Jong attended are likely to have been staged to uphold an illusion of democracy in the country officially known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

“All the voters of the constituency took part in voting and 100 per cent of them voted for Kim Jong-un,” the North’s official KCNA news agency said.

“This is an expression of ... people’s absolute support and profound trust in supreme leader Kim Jong-un as they single-mindedly remain loyal to him, holding him in high esteem,” it added.

But a damning report by the UN published in February further shattered any impression that the country is a democracy, and accused the regime of imposing "unspeakable atrocities" on North Koreans and called for those responsible, including leader Kim Jong-un, to face justice.