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Yesterday, North Korea cut all communications with South Korea after weeks of mounting tension. The North said it was the first in a series of planned actions, describing South Korea as “the enemy”.
It came after thousands of balloons containing anti-regime leaflets from the South landed in the North.
It is thought that the balloons were orchestrated by activists, sending 500,000 over the border criticising Kim’s nuclear war threats.
Following the incident, Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, issued a statement.
She warned that failure to prevent such documents could wreck an agreement to reduce military tensions.
Previous warnings over such severing of ties or full-blown war from North Korea haven’t been taken seriously.
Yet, Yo-jong soon followed through and cut the direct line from Pyongyang to Seoul.
The line, initially set up to reduce tensions, had been in operation since 2018.
Daily calls between the two countries, however, ceased on Tuesday.
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The move has more interestingly, many North Korea experts observe, pushed Yo-jong to the forefront of diplomatic and political relations.
Before, Yo-jong was portrayed as a relative who worked in the background, making sure things went well for her supreme leader brother.
Yet, as dictatorship attempted to manoeuvre itself through political hoops with the rest of the world, many came to view Yo-jong much differently.
Since representing Kim at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Yo-jong has gone on to acquire a number of prestigious titles within the ruling Workers’ party
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Yo-jong is rumoured to be the brains behind Kim’s carefully constructed public image – at home and abroad.
In March, Yo-jong made her first public statement, condemning the South as a “frightened dog barking” after Seoul protested against a live-fire military exercise by the North.
And, according to Youngshik Bong, a research fellow at Yonsei University’s Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul, the publication of political statements in Yo-jong’s name underlines her central role in the regime.
He explained to The Guardian at the time how “it is revealing that Kim Jong-un permitted her to write and announce a scathing statement about South Korea in such a personal tone.
“He is clearly ready to allow his sister to become his alter ego.”
In April, Yo-jong was reinstated to the party’s powerful politburo – the principal policy making committee of a communist party.
She had been removed from the body after diplomacy between the US and North Korea suffered a setback.
Her ascension to power hasn’t gone unnoticed by the West.
In 2017, US officials placed her and other North Korean officials on a blacklist for “severe human rights abuses”.
Her growing profile has also been observed by the people of North Korea too.
Rachel Minyoung Lee, a former North Korea open source intelligence analyst in the U.S. government told Reuters that, prior to 2018, Yo-jong was working in the shadows.
She explained: “Prior to this, Kim Yo Jong was portrayed in state media as Kim Jong Un’s sister, his protocol officer, or one of his accompanying officials.
“Now, North Koreans know for sure there is more to her than that.”
Ms Lee added that Yo-jong’s statements have a unique style, showcasing her wit and underscoring her powerful position.
She said: “In addition to the harsh words and sarcasm, they can be bitingly witty in ways that the other statements are not.
“She seems to have more leeway in crafting her statements, which of course is not surprising.”
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