While Kim Jong-un remains the Supreme Leader of North Korea, a number of actions have been carried out by his sister Kim Yo-jong over the past two months. The move is unprecedented in the hermit state’s history and in the past officials have been executed if it appeared they had disobeyed their leader. Recently, tensions with South Korea have escalated after they announced a plan to look into two groups of defectors that have sent aid and propaganda leaflets to their former home nation. In response, Kim Yo-jong stated that “an instruction” was given to the department in charge of affairs with the “enemy” for them to “decisively carry out the next action”. While the meaning of “next action” was not clear, some interpreted it as a threat of military force after they previously denounced Seoul officials as “mongrel dogs” and “human scum little short of wild animals”. According to some, this aggression may be an attempt to cover up other problems in the state including suspicions about the health of their leader, famine or even coronavirus cases.
Since the foundation of North Korea in 1948 by Kim Il-sung, the state has acted to suppress a number of truths from not only the outside world but their own population too.
This includes their leaders’ lavish spending while much of the nation lived in poverty or struggles on the brink of starvation.
Three years after Kim Jong-un rose to power in 2012, the International Trade Centre Map reported he spent tens of millions on luxury food, vintage wine and horses.
At the same time, the United Nations claimed two million people in the state were contending with famine and living off measly food handouts.
In April this year, the leader was suspected to be “gravely ill” or to have died after he was not seen in public for three weeks.
While the rest of the world believed Kim Jong-un was dead, the nation remained silent and did not seek to disprove the theories.
He reemerged on May 1 at the opening of the fertiliser factory in Sunchon and was photographed by media within the state.
Kim Jong-un’s state escalated tensions with South Korea after declaring them an ‘enemy’
North Korea was led by Kim Il-sung (left), Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, when the state began in 1948
Despite this apparent form of proof, some claimed images could have been faked or a body double used in his place.
Prior to that, his sister Kim Yo-jong made official addresses on behalf of the nation and the Supreme Leader – something that has never been seen before in North Korean history.
Her recent declaration against South Korea could reignite rumours that the leader is not well because she has been permitted to give orders on his behalf.
Chris Mikul, author of the 2019 book ‘My Favourite Dictators’, claimed it was unusual for her to be shown as equal to her brother but didn’t think she would be able to become the next leader.
He told Express.co.uk: “To state the obvious, it’s a fairly sexist society… I thought it would be a step too far for her to take over but then you don’t know.
“Everything about North Korea is a supposition to some extent and usually whenever anything happens there is a time lag.”
Despite this, in carefully crafted photographs released from the regime Kim Yo-jong was decorated with the same attire and jewellery as her brother – which could indicate her power and influence.
JUST IN: Kim Jong-un: Brutal way North Korean leader overcame doubt exposed
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un was believed to have died in April until he resurfaced in May
Mr Mikul claimed she has been portrayed as his “right hand woman” and allowed way more power than anyone else – typically international affairs are dealt with by the Supreme Leader alone.
He told Express.co.uk: “I can’t think of a single woman who has had any position of power at all in North Korea.
“I can’t think of any woman who has had any role in politics since it began, it’s certainly something new to ponder.”
Another alleged cover-up was Kim Jong-un’s claim that the nation had no coronavirus cases several months ago.
Despite the US and China’s offer to help them to identify or treat anyone suspected of COVID-19, the aid was publicly rejected due to their vehement rejections of any concern.
But this week it was claimed that 865 people had been placed in quarantine, according to a report obtained by Daily North Korea, an online news site based in South Korea.
Those who were believed to have been infected with coronavirus had suffered symptoms including fever, coughing and breathing difficulties.
Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un’s sister, has made a number of statements on behalf of North Korea’s ruler
But the site claimed the true numbers could be as high as 15,000 people – due to the state allegedly discounting anyone who presented “light” symptoms.
Mr Mikul claimed that attempts to mask any cases would have been very typical of previous Kim dynasty leaders – but not Kim Jong-un.
Prior to the recent revelations, he told Express.co.uk: “They may have an outbreak in North Korea but we don’t know, they are not telling anyone and probably wouldn’t tell.
“Kim Jong-un’s father and grandfather would have covered it up in the same way they denied famine in the country.
“However, Kim Jong-un is a little bit more liberal with the truth and doesn’t try to cover up everything.
“For example, they had a missile test a while back and it failed – normally that would have been covered up but it was allowed to be reported on the news.”
Chris Mikul’s 2019 book ‘My Favourite Dictators’ was published by Headpress and is available here.