Who is Kim Yo Jong ? “ Kim Jong Un’s sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics,” declared a CNN.com headline. This princess of Pyongyang received a royal welcome from South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in. He seated her in his VIP box, near Vice President Mike Pence, for the opening ceremony. He hosted her for lunch at the presidential Blue House, where she delivered him an invitation for a summit with Mr. Kim. The resulting Reuters headline: “North Korea heading for diplomacy gold medal at the Olympics.”
Missing from most of the media coverage was any detail about Ms. Kim’s day job in Pyongyang. In North Korea this kid sister has served under Big Brother as a deputy director of the powerful and omnipresent Propaganda and Agitation Department. She has apparently racked up a record so stellar that last year the U.S. Treasury blacklisted her as a top North Korean official tied to “notorious abuses of human rights.” Mr. Kim gave her an alternate seat on his politburo.
In blacklisting Ms. Kim, the Treasury specified that her department “controls all media in the country, which the government uses to control the public.” That’s an understatement. The Propaganda and Agitation Department’s mission is to control not only media but minds—to indoctrinate all North Koreans, at all levels, in the absolute supremacy of Kim Jong Un and his Workers’ Party.
A 2014 report by a special United Nations commission on human rights in North Korea found that “there is an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” That entails a pervasive normalization of evil. Any deviation is suppressed via imprisonment, torture and execution. The commission found the regime carries out crimes against humanity on a scale “that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”
In a detailed report published last year by the Washington -based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Robert Collins and Amanda Mortwedt Oh described the Propaganda and Agitation Department as playing “a key role in justifying Kim family rule through domestic and external propaganda.” They added that entire families may be punished if one member is suspected of dissent. The aim is to ensure the survival, glorification and total power of the Kim regime and its hereditary tyrant.
That’s the training and family tradition behind Ms. Kim’s visit to South Korea. Her delegation included plenty of backup, such as Choe Hwi, a vice director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department who has been blacklisted by the U.S. (and the U.N.) for human-rights abuses. The Treasury noted that Mr. Choe “has reportedly been responsible for maintaining ideological purity.” Currently he is chairman of North Korea’s National Sports Guidance Committee.
Ms. Kim, with her freckles and enigmatic smile, is a trained and trusted royal brainwasher for a family regime whose court is built on totalitarian lies. Her admirers in the media ought to be impressed by the professionalism with which she snookered them.
Ms. Rosett is a foreign-policy fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum.