The Rehabilitation of Kim Yo Jong, the 'Ivanka of North Korea'

 Kim Yo Jong shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Image via AP.
Kim Yo Jong shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Image via AP.

Us: Average human, ~ 5'5", unparticular, living in daily fear of nuclear hell storm.


Seeking: Literally any woman in the world. Please smile forever, agree with everything, and don’t blow up earth.

In our quest to find an emotionally stable human to not freaking kill us all, the world turns today to Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo Jong, who’s been dazzling the Olympics with her silent, spartan presence. Like Ivanka Trump, whose name she has been evoking throughout the internet (the “Ivanka Trump of North Korea,” according to the Washington Post), she’s putting a soft public face on a regime, which in her case starves its own people and operates death camps which one Holocaust survivor has called “worse than Auschwitz.” We know basically nothing about her aside from that she smiles, she is one of her brother’s “closest advisers,” according to the New York Times, and that she penned this message in the Olympic guestbook: “I hope Pyongyang and Seoul get closer in our people’s hearts and move forward the future of prosperous unification.” She is “captivating.” The Post reports:

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.

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.


Last week the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd used the same word, “sphinx,” to describe Melania Trump. The only qualities that tie Kim Yo Jong to the Trumps is that they fit in a category of well-behaved politically unopinionated women related to a homicidal maniac; as women, someone the public can appeal to as potentially receptive to human emotion. They are freely assigned various labels depending on the week’s news: sly, complicit, elegant, undercutting, quietly liberal, profiteering, sphinx-like, enigmatic, brilliant, subservient.

Illustration for article titled The Rehabilitation of Kim Yo Jong, the Ivanka of North Korea

For example: South Korean papers have, according to the Post, “marveled at Kim Yo Jong’s ‘humbleness.’” AOL has picked up a video of her throwing a “deadly side-eye” (below). Another Washington Post piece notes that she could be “a potent secret weapon” to distract from its reputation for...evil. CNN, and many others, report that she is “stealing the show.” The South China Morning Post describes her as a possible “mastermind” behind a charm offensive with photo ops with Dennis Rodman, at amusement parks, and even the motivator behind North Korea’s participation in the Olympics.


The diplomatic thread between South Korea and the US and North Korean had worn about as thin as possible in the weeks running up to the Olympics. Nuclear weapons tests; a military parade staged just this week; the apocalyptic propaganda and frenzy of the state-sponsored Moranbong band; our crazy president, always; and just yesterday, Mike Pence told NBC’s Lester Holt that the US is prepared to take “military” action.

This is not the first time diplomacy was attempted with North Korea via an international sporting event. Negotiations running up to the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul fizzled and died in 1987 when two North Koreans planted a bomb on a Korean Air flight from Baghdad to Seoul, killing all aboard. Diplomacy was somewhat repaired in 1991, when North and South came together for a table tennis championship and subsequently signed a nonaggression agreement. North and South marched together in Sydney in the 2000 Olympics, but the relationship once again devolved in the 2000s when North Korea resumed missile tests. Now, the BBC has reported that President Moon and Kim Yo Jong shared a warm handshake and a three hour lunch (which Mike Pence declined). Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon writes that, this time, the opportunity for diplomacy should not be squandered.


North Korea’s feminine look is playing on TV. Along with Kim Yo Jong, North Korea has sent its “Army of Beauties,” or cheerleaders who, Yahoo writes, “rock throwback looks”:

To be sure, it’s not entirely a divergence from what fashion looks like in North Korea (minimal makeup, conservative dress, and nary a blue jean — a “Western decadence” — in sight.) But it is a bit refreshing to for once think about something other than nuclear warfare when considering North Korea.


They are very photogenic, yes.

The more telling observation appeared on CNN today, from Kate Yoo, a 21-year-old woman who observed that effectively Kim Yo Jong’s presence reassures her of lower odds of dying today:

Kate Yoo, 21, who like Yoon spoke to CNN during Saturday’s hockey match between Switzerland and the unified Korean team, said she doesn’t think it’s “the best thing to have her here, although maybe part of having one of the Kim dynasty over is like a safeguard, then they won’t attack.”

Staff reporter, Gizmodo. wkimball @ gizmodo

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I can’t believe anyone is calling this human ‘idol,’ regardless of her side eye skills.

She looks like she enjoys the smell of her own farts. Her smiles aren’t ‘enigmatic’ or ‘sphinx-like,’ they’re smirks of condescension. This woman is standing in for a brother who killed her *other* brother. A brother who had an uncle murdered for saying no. A brother who locked his wife away from not bowing deeply enough when he ascended their nasty, tryannical throne. And she’s looking at everyone else there who’s terrified of her baby brother’s atom splitting tantrums and feeling fucking smug. Fuck. This. Bitch.

She wasn’t loved enough to be fed regularly as a child, or be given independent power now. Her only title is ‘sister of.’ She has clear signs of malnourishment (that hair, her papery skin and protruding cheekbones) and likely has a belly full of parasites *just like* that soldier who ran for his life a couple months ago.

I live within her brat of a brother’s strike path. I have family and loved ones who are serving now. My grandfather fought and lost his ever loving mind trying to stop her grandfather’s advances. I refuse to praise her for a shared disgust of Mike fucking Pence.

Sometimes the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. It’s just another motherfucker in line for an ass whooping.