Youngest child of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il makes history by taken over a key North Korean posted on

Youngest child of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il makes history by taken over a key North Korean posted on

Youngest child of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il makes history by taken over a key North Korean post

The youngest child of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il had already made history by becoming the first member of her family since the end of the Korean War to set foot in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. On a crisp winter day two years ago, Kim Yo Jong took her first step to becoming the powerful politician her father thought she would be. It was February 10, 2018. 

The night before, she had attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. She sat behind South Korean President Moon Jae-in and watched as hundreds of athletes marched together under a flag representing a unified Korea, a country carved in half in the aftermath of World War II by the Soviet Union and the United States with little regard for the thousands of families that were split apart.

Kim applauded these athletes alongside dignitaries like Moon, US Vice President Mike Pence and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It was a tremendous photo op. But a trip to the Blue House, South Korea's presidential residence, was a whole different ball game.

Kim Yo Jong would be the first member of North Korea's ruling family ever to enter the halls of power of a sworn enemy.The morning after the opening ceremony, Kim kexited a black sedan to enter the Blue House. She ambled down a red carpet with immaculate posture and her head held high, exuding the confidence of a woman who had been meeting important world leaders for years. She dressed all in black and clutched a black briefcase in her left hand, dark tones that all drew attention to the red lapel pin over her heart emblazoned with the faces of her smiling father and grandfather.

As she approached the building's threshold, she paused and, out of the corner of her eye, looked to her left. Then she slowed her gait to allow the man by her side -- a nonagenarian named Kim Yong Nam who was North Korea's ceremonial head of state at the time -- to enter first, adhering to Confucian values of respecting one's elders despite the fact her family is revered with near religious fervor back home.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, shakes hands with Kim Yo Jong, North Korea leader Kim Jong Uns sister.

Several experts believe Kim Yo Jong's rising profile has been part of a carefully choreographed publicity campaign by North Korean state media to signal that she's being groomed for something, but have been loath to connect her rising role to any speculation about Kim Jong Un's demise.

There have been no signs that Kim's grip on power has eased, Jeong said. Representative Kim Byung-kee, who attended the NIS briefing last week, said he was told that Kim Jong Un is still the ultimate authority in North Korea and exercises "absolute power." When asked about Kim Jong Un's potential succession plans, Jeong told South Korean lawmakers Monday it would be "inappropriate for me to officially speak about that.
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