Kim Jong Un has reportedly given his sister Kim Yo Jong partial authority to oversee "general state affairs" in order to ease the North Korean leader's workload. Reports also suggest that the Supreme Leader might be in a coma and that is why his sister has taken over.
If the reports are to be believed, Kim Yo Jong will become the first female leader in the extremely male-dominated political scenario in North Korea. And while Yo Jong is just replacing her brother, she is often considered to be more dangerous than him.
Case in point: It was Kim Yo Jong who was behind the blowing up of the symbolic Joint Liaison Office between North and South Korea in Kaesong in June.
The move is symbolic as blowing up a liaison office sends a powerful message. And spearheading the change is the tough Yo Jung.
Kim Yo Jong as the world's first female dictator is a terrifying idea though, especially since she has made it abundantly clear that she intends to carry forward her brother's legacy as the Supreme Leader. Yet, for many around the world, it has been a little difficult to look past her gender.
Women politicians have always been viewed with a differential lens of bias-- with dollops of sexism. While the underlying tone is always that of doubt, whether the woman in question will be able to fit the shoes of her male predecessors. Perhaps, that is why great female politicians of the world like Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel and Hilary Clinton have had to fight twice as hard and scream twice as loud to make their voices heard - to merely be considered as equal with their male counterparts.
That is also perhaps why we weren't shocked to see that around the world, people were searching for nude photos of Kim Yo Jong. According to Google Trends, there has been a spike in search for "Kim Yo Jong Nude" in the past 24 hours. Some have also been searching for Kim Yo Jong Feet. In India, people have been desperately Googling to come across "hot pics" of the politician.
Take a look:
Photo: Google Trends
Photo: Google Trends
Kim Yo Jong may not be nicer than her brother. She may be twice as more dangerous. She may run a dictatorial regime more stringent and more authoritative than her brother ever did. And that is terrifying. But that does not justify sexualising and objectifying her.
North Korea has always been staunchly patriarchal. Women in North Korea are expected to abide by gender norms which dictate that they stay at home and take care of the family. Accounts of women who managed to defect and escape the country show that domestic abuse and gender violence is common in the country.
An interesting report by CNN talks about how Kim Jong Un and Kim Yo Jong's father, Kim Jong II, had probably refrained from naming his daughter his successor fearing gender bias.
According to the report, Kim Jong II had always spoken highly of his daughters who he believed were more intelligent than his sons. In fact, reports suggest that Kim Jong II was not too keen on his sons and did not approve of their activities either. On the contrary, he was extremely fond of his youngest daughter, Kim Yo Jong.
But when it came to naming his successor, the former ruler chose the conventional route. But now, decades later, Kim Yo Jong is finally emerging as the new leader of North Korea, a role even her father would have approved of. Yet, clearly the world is unable to accept the fact that a woman too could be dictator - strict, authoritative and commanding, traits not commonly attributed as "feminine", especially in a patriarchal society.