Rumours of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's death have been floating around for the last few days. So, there's a lot of curiosity around who will succeed Kim if the rumours turn out to be true. Kim Yo Jong, the sister of Kim Jong Un is speculated to be the top runner, but it won't be an easy succession.
The biggest hurdle in her path could be that she's a woman in a society controlled by men. No women in the history of North Korea has ever been in charge. However, according to some North Korea experts bloodlines matter more than gender in line of succession.
And Kim Yo Jong, for the last few years, has been the single most important political figure in North Korea after her brother Kim Jong Un. She is believed to share a close bond with her brother and has been on multiple foreign diplomatic missions with him. Yo Jong had accompanied Kim to his two summits with US President Donald Trump in 2018.
Kim Yo Jong first public appearance was in 2010 when she was seen attending a party conference. Since then she has steadily risen within the ranks of the party especially after her father's death in 2011 and Kim Jong Un's succession, according to The Guardian.
She represented Kim at the 2018 Winter Olympics and since then has acquired many prestigious titles within the North Korean government.
Kim Yo Jong is wildly credited to be the person behind the carefully constructed public image of her brother both in North Korea as well as outside. She is among few who is believed to enjoy complete confidence of the North Korean Leader.
"She plays a pivotal role in North Korean domestic and foreign policy campaigns because she is one of the main stakeholders in the regime's survival," said Leonid Petrov, a North Korea specialist and senior lecturer at the International College of Management in Sydney, told the daily.
Yo Jong's closeness to the North Korean leader and her central role in the administration till now has pegged her as the lead candidate to be the next leader. She has one other siblings who also has a claim to the position but is not likely to succeed. Kim Jong Un's elder brother Kim Jong-chol is reported to be unambitious and has no interest in the position of Supreme Leader. Kim also had an older half-sibling Kim Jong-nam who he was assassinated in 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.
Reports regarding Kim Jong-un's health started floating on April 15 after it was discovered that Kim had not attended the birth anniversary of his grandfather Kim Il-sung.
On Saturday, Kim was absent from another important national holiday of North Korea. His absence from North Korea's Military Foundation Day added fuel to the reports about his ill health.