Does Kim Jong Un Have Any Siblings? His Family Tree Is So Mysterious
The family that has ruled over North Korea for more than six decades is notoriously secretive. As President Donald Trump becomes the first American sitting president to meet with a member of the North Korean leader, it's time to examine the family tree of this infamously secretive family. For instance, does Kim Jong Un have any siblings?
The family tree can be traced to Kim Il-Sung, whose family helped found the country after World War II in the Soviet-affiliated half of the peninsula. Kim Il-Sung was the first premier of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1948. (Asian naming convention uses the family name first.)
Il-Sung was succeeded by Kim Jong Il, and he took office in 1993. Kim Jong Il had at least five kids (but it could be as many as seven children) with four women, according to The New York Times. One of those kids was Kim Jong Un.
Kim Jong Un — who was supposedly born in 1984, but maybe 1983 — succeeded his father in 2011. As a teenager, Kim Jong Un was his father's favorite and "looked just like him," according to the memoir of his father's former sushi chef from 2003, as the Times detailed.
According to Reuters, Kim Jong Un has two full-siblings: Kim Jong Chol, a brother who was born in 1981, and Kim Yo Jong, a sister who was born in 1989. His other sister, Kim Sul Song, was the the only daughter of his father's first wife. Kim Sul Song is a powerful political figure in the country who "rallied around Kim after Kim Jong Il's death," according to Business Insider.
According to the BBC, Kim Jong Chol studied at school in Switzerland for international students. The same sushi chef who said Kim Jong Un was their father's favorite, also claimed Kim Jong Il thought his son Kim Jong Chol was "no good because he is like a little girl."
Kim Jong Un also has a half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, who was poisoned at the Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia in February 2017. To say his death happened under mysterious circumstances is an understatement: Two women allegedly rubbed a nerve agent onto his face in the middle of the international airport terminal, and he died about 15 minutes later en route to the hospital, as chronicled by GQ Magazine. Prior to his death, his chance at succession seemed to be ruined, according to BBC, because he was caught trying to sneak into Japan under a false passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
Business Insider reported that Kim Yo Jong was appointed by her brother to the Workers's Party's Political Bureau in October 2017. She was the public face of the country at the Winter Olympics in South Korea in January. In April, Kim Yo Jong was the only woman representing the country at the historic summit between the two Koreas. She even delivered the invitation for detente to South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Olympics.
Another CNN report referred to her as in the top 20 officials in her brother's government. Michael Madden, the editor of North Korea Leadership Watch blog, described her role as "almost like a White House chief of staff would."
To extend the family tree, Kim Jong Un is believed to have three children with his wife Ri Sol-ju. They're reportedly aged between 10 months and 7 years old.
In 2013, NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman told The Guardian that Kim Jong Un's daughter was Ju-ae. "I held their baby Ju-ae and spoke with Ms. Ri [Sol-Ju] as well," Rodman told the British newspaper. "He's a good dad and has a beautiful family."