As the 2018 Winter Olympics kicked off, a number of media outlets found themselves captivated by the North Korean delegation — a late addition to the games led by none other than Kim Yo Jong, the sister of dictator Kim Jong Un.
CNN claimed that Kim Yo Jong, who is said to work in government propaganda, was “stealing the show,” and The Washington Post compared her to President Donald Trump's eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump. Other networks, including NBC and ABC, gushed about the large contingent of North Korean cheerleaders.
The New York Times even praised Kim Yo Jong's efforts at “diplomacy,” suggesting that with just a few smiles, she had “outflanked” Vice President Mike Pence.
Without a word, only flashing smiles, Kim Jong-un's sister outflanked Vice President Mike Pence in diplomacy https://t.co/c2gTuSTF9e
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 11, 2018
But what hasn't been reported on lately is that aside from a joint hockey team and a few public appearances, nothing in North Korea has changed. BuzzFeed reporter Julia Reinstein put things into perspective:
Before You Decide To Stan Kim Jong Un's Sister, Please Remember To Not Do That https://t.co/IYMa79kahw
— julia reinstein (@juliareinstein) February 11, 2018
A BuzzFeed video from 2014 used the stories and drawings from a former North Korean prisoner to paint a much more vivid — and more disturbing — picture:
North Korea also practices an extreme form of discipline called “three generations of punishment.” The Telegraph explained how that works:
Among the most shocking of North Korea’s human rights abuses is the “three generations of punishment” rule. If one person is found guilty of a crime and sent to a prison camp, so too will their entire family, and the subsequent two generations born at the camp must remain there for life.
Those camps, according to Amnesty International, are only growing over time. The camps house more than 120,000 men, women and children — but because the North Korean regime has not granted human rights researchers access to the facilities, the most reliable information has come from satellite imagery and the testimony of former prisoners.
As for Kim Yo Jong herself, she isn't just a figurehead. The Sun reported that she is trusted enough by her brother — with whom she studied in Switzerland in the 1990s — that she has even filled in for him when he was sick:
In November 2014, Kim was named vice director of the Workers Party's Propaganda and Agitation Department and became its head months later.
Her job is to pump out propaganda both venerating her brother and the North Korean state and discrediting enemies.
You can view additional stories from prison camp survivors below, via Human Rights Watch:
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