North Korea mystery: Kim Jong-un’s sister suddenly reappears in public

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Kim Yo-jong, who is the only member of the despot’s family to hold a public role in politics, was at her brother’s side as they toured a flood-hit town in North Korea. The 32-year-old was snapped walking behind Kim Jong-un as they made their way through a field in Kimhwa County. She had not been seen in public for about two months.

In 2014 Ms Kim married Choe Song, the son of North Korea’s most powerful officials, Choe Ryong-hae.

The secretive couple are rarely pictured in public and differing reports suggest they may have one or two children.

The dictator’s sister yields a significant amount of power in Pyongyang.

Ms Kim is widely considered the de facto second in command.

She holds multiple positions in the feared regime, including vice director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department, responsible for spewing information to venerate her brother, and member of the politburo, the hermit nation’s decision-making body.

She became prominent with her harsh rhetoric against South Korea. Kim and his aides inspected recovery efforts in the area damaged by recent typhoons.

He praised the speed of reconstruction work in the country’s southeast during the visit, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

He said of the storms and other natural disasters: “This year has been one of unprecedented hardships.”

Summer storms and floods have hit North Korea hard, destroying thousands of homes and raising concerns of a worsening of the country’s chronic food shortages.

While praising the recovery, Kim said he “felt regretful” that new houses in the area were of a “monotonous” design.

Earlier, state media had called the cookie-cutter houses a model of the “socialist fairyland”, advertising the regime’s recovery efforts after thousands of homes were destroyed by floods.

Kim’s comments were the latest official criticism in the tightly controlled country, where socialist glorification is the norm.

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On Friday, the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun featured Kim’s tour, showing lines of houses with red roofs and beige and white walls.

The dictator said that although speed was important, he wished “artistic harmony with the surrounding environment and diversity had been appropriately combined”.

In recent weeks state media said Pyongyang had discovered “faults” in its efforts to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Kim even issued an extremely rare apology for Pyongyang’s killing of a South Korean government official.

The civil servant was approached by a North Korean naval vessel and killed.

He worked on a ship monitoring fishing boats close to the disputed western sea border between the two Koreas.

He was gunned down last week after his vessel drifted into North Korean waters.

In a letter, Kim said he felt “very sorry” for the incident and vowed to instruct his military to take necessary measures to ensure such a “regrettable” case would not be repeated.

The incident sparked outrage in Seoul, with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in saying such an act would not be tolerated.

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