Kim Yo Jong makes first appearance at North Korea weapon test

Kim Jong Un’s powerful younger sister made her first publicly known appearance at a North Korea weapons test site, according to state media images of the test of a “super-large multiple rocket launcher” that took place early Saturday.

Kim Yo Jong (R), believed to be vice director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea, was seen in images of North Korea’s latest weapons test on Saturday. Photo screenshot of KCTV

Kim Yo Jong’s presence at the test site for the “new weapon” is unprecedented. Her profile has grown since 2018, when her brother met for the first time with world leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, South Korea’s Moon Jae-in and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

On Sunday, Korean Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported the weapons test on its first page. The Rodong praised Kim as “the greatest leader” who “traveled a great distance in the early hours” to provide field guidance along the eastern coast where the test was held.

Kim Yo Jong likely accompanied her brother for the test — the seventh round since the U.S.-North Korea Panmunjom summit — in her capacity as the vice director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers’ Party, South Korean analyst Cho Han-bum of the Korea Institute for National Unification said, according to JoongAng Daily.

The Saturday test required propaganda and Kim Yo Jong was likely present to direct the filming of footage. Cho also said Kim Yo Jong may have also been purposely included in one photograph taken at the test site in order to “display her status, and the Paektu bloodline” of the ruling Kim family.

Pyongyang has shown no signs of de-escalating tensions or scaling down weapons tests.

Speculation is rising in the South over North Korea’s next possible move, as the regime prepares to hold a meeting of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly, South Korean news service News 1 reported.

North Korea has previously used the colonial anniversary as a day to test weapons, including in 2017, when it tested the intermediate-range missile Hwasong-12. The missile passed over the Japanese island of Hokkaido and prompted Japanese authorities to issue emergency alerts.

ByElizabeth Shim