Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, has allegedly taken over state duties while her brother receives medical treatment. Her responsibilities include handling important government decisions while her brother undergoes treatment at Bonghwa Clinic in North Korea's capital Pyongyang, according to media reports. No specific information on his alleged health troubles have been made public.
"Some say Hwang Byong So, director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army, may have assumed new No. 2 status, but given what has been confirmed this time, we can say Hwang is just a shadow, and Kim Yo-jong is the second-in-command of North Korea," said Kim Heung Gwang, the head of North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, according to the Diplomat, a magazine based in Tokyo.
Kim Yo-jong is the daughter of the former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. She was only officially mentioned for the first time on March 9 and was later identified as a senior official in the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, according to Ria Novosti, the Russian news agency.
The Associated Press reported earlier this month on the supreme leader's notable absence from a Supreme People’s Assembly meeting broadcast on state television, apparently the first time he's missed the meeting since taking office in December 2011 after the sudden death of his father and predecessor. North Korean state media has acknowledged rumors of illness by saying that the 31-year-old leader was experiencing “discomfort,” without going into further detail.
Media reports have speculated that he has gout, underwent ankle surgery, or is suffering from health problems after eating too much cheese.