The last time North Korea was in the news, it was because a coronavirus carrier was shot to death in the dictatorship. Now, it is being reported that Kim Jong Un, one of the most notorious men in the world, could possibly be dead or that his health may be failing. However, even as these reports are shrouded in the mystery that always surrounds North Korea, analysts and those versed in the country’s politics have been dropping a name – Kim Yo Jong.

Kim Yo Jong is Kim Jong Un’s younger sister and is believed to be his heir if the old man really does kick the bucket. However, could she be North Korea’s first female dictator?

The first time the media began to speculate about Kim Jong Un’s health was after he missed the April 15 commemoration of the birthday of his grandfather, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung. Since he came to power in 2011, he hasn’t missed this event. Further unconfirmed reports clad in murkiness only added to the fervour around his assumed death.

So far, TIME reports that there appears to be no formal succession plan in North Korea. However, it is pretty possible for the dictator to die even though he’s in his mid-30s, simply because medical experts believe that he is obese and unhealthy and is known to be a heavy smoker.

But who is Kim Yo Jong? Considered to be her brother’s most trusted aide, Yo Jong is one of late North Korean leader Kim Jung Il’s many children.

 

“She is, as best we can tell, a very capable and high-skilled member of the North Korean leadership—and is not one to underestimated by any stretch of the imagination,” Harry J. Kazianis, the senior director of Korean Studies at the Washington D.C- based think tank the Center for the National Interest, told TIME.

According to the website North Korea Leadership Watch, Kim Yo Jong was raised primarily in Pyongyang but is believed to have spent around four years in an elementary school in Switzerland. According to the website, she is also married to Choe Song who is believed to be Choe Ryong Hae’s son who is “one of the most powerful officials in [North Korea’s] formal hierarchy”.

She first gained international attention after she attended the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.