Kim Jong-un’s Sister Oversees Brutal Regime’s Propaganda Efforts

By Patrick Goodenough | February 12, 2018 | 1:15am EST
Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the president’s office in Seoul on February 10, 2018. (Photo: Cheong Wa Dae)

( – Kim Jong-un’s younger sister, the subject of breathless media coverage as she smiled her way through a three-day visit to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, heads up the regime’s department responsible for lying to its people about the behavior of a regime whose atrocities have been described as “without parallel in the modern world.”

That entity, the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea’s propaganda and agitation department (PAD), lays down monthly guidelines that all media in the country must follow.

North Korean state media, presumably operating within those guidelines, regularly threaten to target the United States and Japan with nuclear weapons.

They routinely mock and insult the regime’s foes including South Korean conservatives and particularly President Trump, using epithets like “dolt, “lunatic,” “war maniacs,” “human scum,” “dotard” and “mentally deranged old psychopath.”

Kim Yo-jong, the dictator’s sister, has headed the PAD since 2015.

In March 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the PAD for sanctions, saying that the ruling WPK through that department controls the media and uses it “as a tool to control the public.”

OFAC said the propaganda department every month “delivers party guidelines explaining the narrative that all broadcast and news reporting plans must follow.” It is also, OFAC said, “the primary agency responsible for both newspaper and broadcast censorship.”

In January 2017, Kim Yo-jong herself was sanctioned, one of seven senior North Korean officials designated by OFAC for human rights abuses and “rigid censorship policies” – policies which OFAC’s acting director John E. Smith said aim to conceal “its inhumane and oppressive behavior.”

Then-Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski told South Korea’s official Yonhap news agency at the time that the functions of the department headed by Kim Yo-jong included controlling the population, including through reinforcing “the system of deifying of, worshipping the [Kim] family.”

“All of these are critical parts of the North Korean regime’s efforts to control its population and to deny them human rights,” Malinowski said.

‘Diplomatic image-making’

Now aged around 29, Kim Yo-jong last October was named a member of the North Korean politburo, the top decision-making body which Kim Jong-un heads.

On Friday she became the first member of the Kim dynasty to visit South Korea since the Korean war ended in 1953 with the peninsula divided and remaining – to this day – formally at war.

Some South Korean media coverage of the visit appeared more concerned with Kim Yo-jong’s makeup, wardrobe, and “humble” demeanor than her role in the brutal regime.

Meanwhile CNN reported on her smiles and warmth, saying she was “stealing the show” at the opening ceremony in PyeongChang, and opining that if “diplomatic dance” was an Olympic sport, she would be in contention for a gold medal.

The New York Times reported that Kim Yo-jong “managed to outflank Mr. Trump’s envoy to the Olympics, Vice President Mike Pence, in the game of diplomatic image-making.”

Vice-President Mike Pence meets with North Korean defectors at the Cheonan memorial on Friday, February 9, 2018. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Pence attended the opening as part of a mission not to allow North Korea to use its hastily-arranged participation in the games to divert attention from its nuclear and ballistic missile provocations and rights abuses.

In line with that goal, he and Second Lady Karen Pence visited a memorial to the 46 South Korean sailors killed when a navy corvette, the Cheonan, was sunk in 2010. An international investigation attributed the sinking to a North Korean torpedo.

The Pences also met with four defectors from North Korea, and were accompanied by Fred Warmbier, the father of the American student Otto Warmbier who died shortly after being released from a North Korean prison and returned home in a coma last June.

Pence told the defectors that he and his wife “wanted the honor of meeting with men and women who fled the tyranny of North Korea and to hear your stories. And today, we want to make sure that the world hears your stories as well.”

“As President Trump has said, the cruel dictatorship of North Korea is little more than a prison state,” he said. “And as these people and their lives have testified, it is a regime that imprisons, tortures, and impoverishes its citizens.”

‘Extermination, murder, enslavement, torture ...’

A Jan. 2017 State Department report to Congress, required in sanctions legislation enacted the previous year, said the PAD “maintains oppressive information control and is responsible for indoctrinating the people” of North Korea.

“There is no independent media in North Korea; all media is strictly censored and no deviation from the official government line is tolerated,” it said. “The government allows no editorial freedom; all stories are centrally directed and reviewed to ensure that they are in line with the state ideology.”

“Authorities prohibit listening to foreign media broadcasts and take steps to jam foreign radio broadcasts.”

In 2014, a commission of inquiry submitted a 400-page report to the U.N. Human Rights Council describing atrocities in North Korea including “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, forcible transfer of populations, enforced disappearance and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”

That report found that the PAD carries out the party’s “extensive indoctrination program,” which it said is used to “deny its citizen freedom of thought and freedom of information.”

The commission’s chairman, Michael Kirby, told the U.N. body that the abuses committed in North Korea were “without parallel in the modern world.”


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