A Popstar, His Sister, Some Sweet Old Ladies: Meet The Powerpuff Girls of Kim's Entourage
Meet the powerful women who make up part of Kim's team at the Singapore summit.
In this Feb 9, 2018 file photo, Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, arrives for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Many outside experts believe she has already become the No. 2 official in a country that has been ruled by the Kim family for seven decades. (AP)
Much attention will be on Kim Jong Un at his historic summit Tuesday with President Donald Trump. But the 34-year-old North Korean leader also brought a group of trusted lieutenants to Singapore, with at least four high-powered women including his own sister.
A brief look at Kim’s entourage:
KIM YONG CHOL
Kim, 72, has been Kim Jong Un’s most trusted policy adviser since the North Korean leader began a peace offensive with the U.S. and South Korea in January. He accompanied the young leader at all four of his recent summits, twice with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and twice with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Recently, Kim Jong Un sent him to the United States to hand-deliver a letter to Trump, making him North Korea’s most senior official to visit its wartime foe in 18 years. Kim Yong Chol’s rise has baffled many North Korea watchers because he is the ruling Workers’ Party official in charge of South Korea ties, not international or U.S. relations. Previously, he served as intelligence chief and is believed to have been behind two attacks in 2010 that killed 50 South Koreans.
KIM YO JONG
She is Kim Jong Un’s younger sister and is thought to be in her late 20s or early 30s. Her official post is the Workers’ Party official responsible for propaganda affairs. Many outside experts believe she has already become the No. 2 official in a country that has been ruled by the Kim family for seven decades. She reportedly traveled to Singapore separately from her brother amid media speculation that the North’s top two officials intentionally take different planes in case of an accident.
CHOE SON HUI
Choe, a vice foreign minister, is the highest-level female diplomat in North Korea. She previously worked as an English-language interpreter for a North Korean delegation attending now-stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament talks. Last month, her threat to scuttle the summit and description of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as a “political dummy” prompted Trump to pull out of his meeting with Kim, although he quickly reversed his decision. Some observers speculated Kim would sack Choe but she retained her position. On Monday, she met senior U.S. diplomat Sung Kim at the Ritz-Carlton hotel to make final preparations for the summit.
HYON SONG WOL
Hyon is head of North Korea’s hugely popular Moranbong girl band, whose members were hand-picked by Kim Jong Un. She also led a large North Korean art troupe sent to South Korea during the February Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Her earlier trip to South Korea in January triggered a media frenzy.
KIM SUNG HAE
Kim is a departmental director at North Korea’s United Front Department, the Workers’ Party organization that handles inter-Korean relations. She also attended Monday’s meeting at the Ritz-Carlton hotel.
NO KWANG CHOL
No is North Korea’s minister of the People’s Armed Forces. His appointment to one of the top military jobs was officially confirmed by a state media dispatch on Monday that included him in a list of officials traveling with Kim.
RI SU YONG
Ri, 78, is the top Workers’ Party official for international affairs. The former foreign minister was North Korea’s ambassador to Switzerland when Kim Jong Un studied there as a teenager.
RI YONG HO
Foreign Minister Ri, 61, is a career diplomat who served as the chief North Korean delegate to the six-party nuclear talks.
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