NEW YORK (CNN) – North Korea leader Kim Jong Un has not been seen publicly in more than a month, many believe his younger sister is running the country.
She’s barely noticed often seen behind him in official pictures. But right now some believe Kim Jong Un’s younger sister could be running north Korea. Analysts say Kim Yo Jong, who’s believed to be in her mid-20’s has unfettered access to her brother. The belief that she might have ascended to the top, temporarily, comes from the North Korean intellectuals’ solidarity. A group of defectors which has not revealed the source of its information, CNN cannot independently confirm it.
Victor Cha of the Center for Strategic & International studies said, “I can see how it’s possible that she’s in some sort of temporary position. It’s very difficult for the north Korean system to run without one of the Kim family at least titularly in charge.”
Analysts say Kim Yo Jong’s the youngest of seven children their father, Kim Jong Il, had with four different women. She went to private school with Kim Jong Un in Switzerland, under assumed names, experts say and later took on important responsibilities for her father like inspecting sites before official visits. Analysts say Kim Yo Jong now does similar tasks for her brother, but also gets intelligence briefings and handles government policy.
“Clearly it’s an effort to slow-track her on to becoming somebody who is important within the system,” Cha continued. But as for handling all the stress and palace intrigue of being the supreme leader, “If in fact she is running the country as a- someone in their early-to-mid-20’s, to me that is quite alarming. It means there is something seriously wrong with Kim Jong Un and there is some sort of void that they’re trying desperately to fill.”
The mystery surrounding Kim Yo Jong’s brother is only deepening. Kim Jong Un hasn’t been seen publicly in more than a month. South Korea’s defense minister now says Kim is not in the capital city. One analyst says he could be north of Pyongyang in one of three different compounds used by the ruling elite.
And there’s one other possibility.
“Another option is over here, in Wonson. This summer, Kim Jong Un spent a lot of time over here, he observed military demonstrations out in the bay here, and he even had military practices take place right off the beach, in front of his family home,” said Cha.
Many will be watching to see if Kim Jong Un shows up Friday at the anniversary of the founding of the ruling workers’ party. If he doesn’t show the concern over his public disappearance will only grow.
If he does, intelligence analysts will be looking at his appearance, his body language, every detail very carefully.