Kim Jong-un’s sister given major new role in North Korea after death rumours

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Kim Yo Jong, the first deputy director of North Korea’s Propaganda and Agitation Department, is reportedly overseeing a review of the country’s public bonds program. North Korea issued bonds for the first time in 17 years last month.

North Korea is reportedly trying out different ways to sell bonds to the country’s wealthy entrepreneurial class, the donju, along with various businesses.

According to a source in North Korea that spoke with Daily NK, Kim Jong-un’s sister is focusing her review of how agencies managing the sale of the bonds are conducting their work.

The publication says Kim is providing reports to her brother and Kim Jong Un appears to be reviewing reports from local officials.

He is also said to be reviewing reports prepared by his sister about the status of the public bonds program.

Kim Yo Jong dispatched investigators earlier this month to Cabinet-affiliated agency offices managing the sale of public bonds, businesses and local markets throughout the country.

The investigators hid their true identities according to reports.

This suggests that Kim ordered them to conduct a thorough investigation into the bonds program.

The source pointed out, however, that Kim is not considered the “head” of the bonds program; rather, she is just managing the review process.

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This is likely because North Korea has a history of severely punishing, even executing, officials who fail to properly manage government programs and policies.

For example, North Korea executed Park Nam Gi, the director of the North Korean communist party’s planning and finance department, along with many others after the failure of the 2009 currency reform.

That reform effort led to a massive fall in the value of the North Korean won and commodity prices skyrocketed.

Another source said the financial review found that the bonds program has only brought in around 8 percent of the foreign currency the program originally wanted to collect.


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“I know that the financial review said that some donju, business managers, and Japanese-Koreans and Chinese living abroad have been supportive of the public bonds measure,” the source noted.

“The [financial review] report suggested that more public bonds can be [sold] if the government gives them awards honoring them as patriots.”

However, some high-level North Korean officials have reportedly expressed a more negative outlook about the bonds program.

“High-level officials with knowledge of the situation are saying that there are very few donju who are willing to purchase the bonds,” the source said.

“Some are even saying that the state needs to pull back on some of the country’s ongoing construction projects because any attempt to force people to buy the bonds will lead to discontent and unrest in the country,” he added.

The news comes after the North Korean leader’s absence attracted masses of speculation surrounding his health in recent weeks.

Some sources speculated his sister taking on new roles could be a clue she is set to take over should the leader’s health decline.

However, despite the leader re-emerging, North Korea’s history of doctored photos has cast doubt over information coming out of the country.

In 2015, photographs showing Kim Jong-un proudly watching as a North Korean missile was launched from an underwater submarine were manipulated by state propagandists, experts shockingly claimed.

German aerospace experts said photos of the launch were “strongly modified”, including reflections of the missile exhaust flame in the water which did not line up with the missile itself.

Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker, of Schmucker Technologie, told Reuters: “Considering the track record of North Korean deceptions, it seems sensible to assume that any North Korean SLBM [submarine-launched ballistic missile] capability is still a very long time in the future, if it will ever surface.”

A photo on state TV showed a missile high in the sky leaving a trail of white smoke, whereas other photos from state media showed no white smoke, suggesting the two photos were of different missiles with different propulsion systems, Mr Schiller and Mr Schmucker added.

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