GANGNEUNG, South Korea – They marveled at her barely-there makeup and her lack of bling. They commented on her plain black outfits and simple purse. They noted the flower-shaped clip that kept her hair back in a no-nonsense style.
Here she was, a political princess, but the North Korean “first sister” had none of the hallmarks of power and wealth that Koreans south of the divide have come to expect. In looks-obsessed South Korea, many 20-something women list plastic surgery and brand-name bags as life goals.
Pyeongchang 2018 logo.
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Most of all, Kim Yo Jong was an enigma. Just like them, but nothing like them. A woman with a sphinx-like smile who gave nothing away during her three-day Olympic-related visit to South Korea as her brother Kim Jong Un’s special envoy.
“I thought Kim Yo Jong was going to be so serious, but she smiled all the time, so she made a good first impression,” said Kwon Hee-sun, a 29-year-old South Korean woman attending the women’s ice hockey match at the Winter Olympics on Saturday night. The Korean teams had been combined – three North Koreans were playing on the merged team.
“I’m curious about her. I wonder if she’s married. I think it’ll be very meaningful if she comes to the game,” Kwon said. She soon got her wish: Kim Yo Jong showed up to cheer on the united Korean team.
Kim Yo Jong arrives at the opening ceremony on Feb. 9
Kim is “the Ivanka Trump of North Korea” because of her family connections and her ability to be a compelling saleswoman, said Sue Mi Terry, a former Korean analyst at the CIA who is now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
South Korean television drew that exact parallel, noting that Kim Jong Un had sent his sister to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, while President Donald Trump was sending his daughter to the closing.
Very little is known about the current generation that runs North Korea: leader Kim Jong Un and his glamorous wife, Ri Sol Ju; his reclusive older brother, Kim Jong Chol; and his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong.
South Koran President Moon Jae-in talks with Kim Yo Jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, during a performance of North Korea’s Samjiyon Orchestra.
We know that the Kims, the children of …read more