Whether she’s lurking behind walls or plants, Kim Jong Un’s sister is never more than a few steps away from her brother.
As the world watched President Trump meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi this week, many focused on the important developments: To the surprise of the world, Kim took a question from a foreign journalist, talks between the two leaders collapsed and the summit came to an abrupt halt.
But others couldn’t help but notice the evasive woman who frequently appeared and then disappeared from sight as the two leaders got down to business. For those who spotted her in the background, the actions of Kim’s ever-watchful younger sister Kim Yo Jong provided light entertainment during a time of fraught talks between the United States and North Korea.
Online, footage emerged of Kim Yo Jong in the shadows carefully carrying an ashtray toward Kim Jong Un as he smoked at a railway station in China. Once at the summit, she was spotted popping out from behind walls and lingering behind a plant surreptitiously as her brother held talks with Trump.
On social media users shared video clips, photos and memes of Kim Yo Jong “creeping in the back."
But what exactly do we know about Kim Yo Jong?
As my colleague, Anna Fifield, reported last year, not much is known about North Korea’s ruling Kim family. From his wife to his siblings, details about those closest to leader Kim Jong Un are shrouded in mystery. Conflicting details make it hard to confirm basic ones, such as her age — although it is estimated she is in her early 30s.
One thing we know for sure: This is not the first time Kim Yo Jong has found herself in the spotlight. During the 2018 Olympics, South Koreans were captivated by her visit, which involved her smiling a lot and not talking to anyone. From her handwriting to her appearance, every move she made was analyzed, especially in the media. People were intrigued, wanting to know more about her, from her personal life to her career. At the time, one analyst even went as far as nicknaming her the “Ivanka Trump of North Korea.”
Although her performance at the summit could be interpreted as coy, Kim Yo Jong is not to be underestimated. She has climbed higher on the leadership ladder within recent years and was promoted by her brother in 2017. At the time, the move was interpreted by analysts as a sign that Kim Jong Un was trying to elevate her profile. She is now considered to be one of his closest advisers.