The Epitome of Privilege, Inequality, Racism, and Injustice

A review of The Sister by Sung-Yoon Lee

Kim Yo-jong
South Korean President Moon Jae-in meeting with Kim Yo Jong, North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un's sister, and Kim Yong-nam, the President of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly, at Blue House. Kim Jinseok (Official photographer of Republic of Korea)

The Sister is a book about privilege, inequality, racism, and injustice.

Sorry to disappoint American wokesters, but it’s not about the United States or White people. It’s about North Korea, a nation that, by comparison, makes America’s racial, economic and political problems look as insignificant as an ice cube next to an iceberg.

The book pulls the curtain back on Kim Yo Jong, the sister of the current North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, and the granddaughter of Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea and the progenitor of what is known in Korea as the Mount Paektu Bloodline.

Kim Yo Jong is the second most powerful person in the dictatorship, the chief propagandist for the murderous regime, and the next in line to continue the family dynasty should her brother die first. Her youthfulness, good looks, and pretty smile have fooled Western leaders and belie her cruelty, authoritarianism, intolerance, bullying, and nuclear brinkmanship.

Like her brother, Kim Yo Jong attended elite schools in Switzerland, grew up pampered in palaces in North Korea, and, as a teenager, was treated as an equal to top military officers and government officials, who feared for their life if they crossed her.

It’s easy to cross the ruling family. Kim Jong Un had the head of the People’s Armed Forces executed in public by an anti-aircraft machine gun. His crime? He dozed off during one of the dictator’s meetings. Another high-level minister was sentenced to death for not clapping vigorously enough during Kim Jong Un’s speeches.

As with their parents and grandparents, the two siblings excel at duping leaders, reporters and the public in Western democracies, who never seem to catch on to the game they play. First, the siblings come across as belligerent, unhinged, and unafraid of nuclear war. Later, they put on smiles, turn on the charm, and make peace overtures. Put off-balance by the dramatic shift in mood, the Western democracies agree to give them humanitarian aid, to reduce economic sanctions against them, and to believe that they are amenable to denuclearization, not understanding that denuclearization to them means the removal of nukes from South Korea, not North Korea. After getting all the concessions they can from the West, the siblings return to their old behavior of launching ballistic missiles into the Pacific, harassing South Korean ships, kidnapping foreigners, and of course, subjugating their own people to thought control, poverty and periodic mass starvation, in the tradition of communism.

It is the nature of democracies, or their flaw if you will, to believe that the human desire for freedom and prosperity can be coaxed out of all peoples with the right policies and incentives. Also, of course, democracies are beholden to public opinion, which is often swayed by emotions and idealism. This has been the case with South Koreans, who have a strong desire for peace and unification with their racial and familial cousins in North Korea.

To that point, the book gives an example of South Koreans becoming enamored with Kim Yo Jong when she headed a North Korean delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics held in South Korea. She easily outshined Vice President Mike Pence in public relations at the Olympics, because he was caught in a political Catch-22 and came across as unfriendly and opposed to reconciliation.

Paradoxically, Americans are fixated on race and insist on categorizing the hundreds of unique racial and ethnic groups in the US into the six contrived categories of White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American. Yet in foreign relations they seem to downplay the strong influence of race in international affairs, as well as downplaying the natural inclination among many nations for racial homogeneity instead of diversity. The book doesn’t delve into this, but North and South Koreans see themselves as one race, and a unique race at that, a race that is quite different from the Japanese and all of the other races that Americans insensitively lump together as Asian.

That’s not to suggest that the North Korean regime doesn’t categorize people. Like all communists, they categorize people into classes, based on their perceived loyalty to the ruling party. At the top is the Core Class, in the middle is the Wavering Class, and at the bottom is the Hostile Class. Where a Korean is placed at birth determines the individual’s level of food rations and where the person will live, work and be schooled.

The book describes the two meetings between Art-of-the-Deal President Donald Trump and Rocket Man Kim Jong Un. The first meeting was marked by bonhomie and ended on an upbeat note, with both leaders signing a worthless letter of understanding while smiling for the cameras. The second meeting went downhill when Trump realized he was being played.

It’s hard to believe, but President Trump had tried to sell Kim Jong Un on developing North Korea’s seashore with resorts and high-rise condos—as if that would serve the interests of the dictator and his regime. Trump even showed the dictator a short video of what North Korea could be like with the right economic development.

Years earlier, Kim Jong Un and his sister Kim Yo Jong had been particularly insulting about President Barack Obama. They allowed their propaganda ministry to describe the president in the vilest racist terms, language that was so disgusting that it won’t be quoted here.

The vitriol was just as intense after a summit was held between President Obama and South Korean President Park. The North Korean regime’s official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, wrote that the summit was “nothing but a disgusting kiss between the boss of gangsters asking his political prostitute to serve him before going to war and his partner flattering him.” The propaganda ministry under Kim Yo Jong piled on by describing President Park as “a disgusting old prostitute raising even her skirt, not feeling any shame to bring a stranger [Obama] into her bedroom.” The ministry would later say that the prostitute “has to be eliminated at an early date.”

Separately, vitriol was directed at Michael Kirby, a retired justice of the high court of Australia who is openly gay. For chairing a United Nations commission on human rights abuses in North Korea, the propaganda ministry called him “a disgusting old lecher with a 40-odd-year-long career of homosexuality.”

It’s frightening to face the prospect of Kim Yo Jong replacing her brother someday and being just as belligerent and dangerous for decades thereafter, but with a disarming smile.

In closing: It wasn’t the intent of The Sister to make Americans appreciate that they live in liberal democracy and to realize the fragility of liberal democracy in a world where North Korea isn’t the only despotic and dangerous country. But that conclusion is inescapable after reading the book—unless, that is, the reader is a wokester who believes that the US is an evil empire and the epitome of privilege, inequality, racism, and injustice.

Mr. Cantoni is an author and widely published. Contact: or

About Craig J. Cantoni 29 Articles
Community Activist Craig Cantoni strategizes on ways to make Tucson a better to live, work and play.