The Sister

Sung-Yoon Lee

15 June 2023
304 pages


'In explaining the rise to power of Kim Yo Jong, Lee displays his deep knowledge and understanding of North Korea's extreme, ruthless and self-obsessed dynastic autocracy, the creators and rulers of a de-facto nuclear weapon state. Not a reassuring story'- Sir John Scarlett, former Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6)

The Sister is a fascinating, authoritative account of the spectacular rise of Kim Yo Jong, de-facto deputy to her brother, Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, and the most powerful woman in North Korea.

In 2022, in a particularly fiery speech, Kim Yo Jong threatened to nuke South Korea, reminding the world of the dangers posed by her state. But how did the youngest daughter of Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, his ‘sweet princess’, become the ruthless chief propagandist, internal administrator and foreign policymaker for her brother’s totalitarian regime?

The Sister, written by Sung-Yoon Lee, a scholar and specialist on North Korea, uncovers the truth about Kim Yo Jong, her close bond with Kim Jong Un and the lessons in manipulation they learned from their father. He also examines the iron grip the Kim dynasty has on their country, the grotesque deaths of family members deemed disloyal, and the signs that Kim Yo Jong has been positioned as her brother’s successor should he die while his own children are young.

Readable and insightful, this book is an invaluable portrait of a woman who might yet hold the survival of her despotic dynasty in her hands.

'An incisive portrayal of North Korea's "princess", Kim Yo Jong, but also a chilling portrait of a family dynasty that has oppressed and exploited North Korea for generation after generation' - Max Boot, Washington Post columnist, author and senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Among the most insightful and prescient chroniclers
Riveting, unique, policy-relevant narrative of the first order. A must-read for all policymakers. Lee sees through the North Korean regime's antics, maskirovka, and propaganda – much of it the work of Kim Yo Jong – as does no other. A work of penetrating analysis, caustic wit, and elegant prose
In The Sister, Sung-Yoon Lee offers a trenchant analysis of the Kim Jong Un regime and his sister's role in propagating their cult of personality. He employs his deep knowledge of the subject and his fine literary skills to tell a tale that is both fascinating and disturbing. The Sister is a gripping story of great policy relevance