The Rise of Kim Yo-Jong in the North Korean Regime

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  • March 2019

    The state narrative of North Korea, the story that keeps the Kims in power and the population uncomplaining, is built as much around international politics as it is domestic. In the mid-1990s, soon after the first transition of power from Kim Il-sung to Kim Jong-il, the country and the regime was in crisis. Always looking at themselves through the lens of South Korea and the need for reunification, official propaganda had been building an idea that their Southern brothers and sisters were impoverished in comparison and desperate to join with the North once again. In 1994, a series of steadily compounding mistakes in planning all cleaved together into a nationwide famine, and this lie suddenly became impossible to believe. Something was needed to explain away this economic inferiority, and justify the continuation of the regime.