Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, who was once a powerful figure in North Korea, is thought to have been sidelined in favor of the younger generation leading to rumors that she may be killed. Recent public appearances by Kim’s daughter, Kim Ju Ae, have led some experts on North Korea to believe that she is being groomed to succeed him.
Given Kim Jong-un’s track record of eliminating his political rivals, speaking to the Daily Beast, experts have expressed concerns about the safety of his sister, especially since she has fallen out of favor.
North Korean analysts note that Kim Ju Ae’s appearance, who is thought to be Kim Jong Un’s second child, is a new development that the North Korean government only acknowledged in November 2022.
She has recently become more well-known in North Korea, where state media has referred to her as her father’s “most beloved” or “respected” kid.
In the past, Kim Yo Jong was a prominent person and Kim Jong Un’s main ally. However, given Kim Ju Ae’s rising stature, it is now thought that she no longer has a position in the regime’s new leadership.
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A former diplomat at the American Embassy in Seoul, David Straub said: “Kim had both his uncle and his half-brother murdered.”
He added: “I’ll bet everyone in the Kim clan remembered, perhaps especially Yo Jong.”
North Korea has halted weapons testing activities since its short-range missile firing on January 1, although it launched more than 70 missiles in 2022 — a record number for a single year.
Friday’s warning suggests the North’s testing could resume soon over its rivals’ military training, which it views as an invasion rehearsal.
According to experts, the emergence of Kim Ju Ae, who is believed to be Kim Jong Un’s second child, is a recent development that was only confirmed by the North Korean government in November 2022.
In recent times, she has been gaining more public attention in North Korea and has been referred to as her father’s “most beloved” or “respected” child by state media. In the past, Kim Yo Jong was a significant figure and a primary supporter of Kim Jong Un. However, it is now believed that there is no longer a place for her in the regime’s new leadership given Kim Ju Ae’s increasing prominence.
The North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state media: “In case the US and South Korea carry into practice their already announced plan for military drills that (North Korea), with just apprehension and reason, regards as preparations for an aggression war, they will face unprecedentedly persistent and strong counteractions.”
The statement accused South Korea and the United States of planning more than 20 rounds of military drills, including their largest-ever field exercises.
It called South Korea and the United States “the arch-criminals deliberately disrupting” regional peace and stability.
The statement said: “This predicts that the situation in the Korean Peninsula and the region will again be plunged into the grave vortex of escalating tension.”
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It did not specify which US-South Korean military training it was referring to. But North Korea has typically slammed all major regular military drills between Washington and Seoul as a practice to launch an invasion and responded with its own weapons tests.
Some experts say North Korea has used various South Korea-US drills as a chance to test and perfect its weapons systems.
They say North Korea would eventually aim to use its enlarged nuclear arsenal to win international recognition as a legitimate nuclear state and win sanctions relief and other concessions.
Seoul and Washington have said their training is defensive in nature.