Kim Jong-un being ‘followed’ by a mystery woman with sunglasses and handbag

A mystery woman has been spotted following Kim Jong-un as speculation mounts that another relative has stepped into the public eye.

The lady is rumoured to be the tyrant's half-sister Kim Sol-song after she was seen shadowing the dictator at multiple engagements.

It is believed the woman is in her 30s or 40s and has recently been seen carrying a large handbag at the functions.

The mystery woman has also been linked to working for the North Korean despot after she was spotted lingering in the vicinity of his Mercedes.

She often wears sunglasses and was also seen passing Kim his speech at a large political rally in February.

Michael Madden, a leading expert on North Korea’s elite, suggested that she might be part of the leader’s inner circle.

“We do not know what job or function this individual discharges,” he said.

“But because she was observed leaving Kim Jong-un’s personal car at an event, it is a reasonable and safe assumption that she works directly for him in his executive office.

“Kim Jong-un has four or five individuals – men and women – who work as administrative and personal assistants to him.

“This woman might be his private secretary.”

If the woman in question is Kim Sol-song, 47, she brings a wealth of experience to the role.

She served the former leader Kim Jong-il – who fathered both herself and Kim Jong-un – as an event director before his death in 2011.

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Mr Madden – who runs the North Korea Leadership Watch website – called it a “critical” position.

He said: “It involves coordinating the leader’s schedule, his security arrangements, protocol and press coverage requirements, etc.

“In a political culture like North Korea's, it is a pretty critical job as this individual controls what elite North Korean citizens have access to the leader – at least for public events.”

Kim Sol-song is also said to have served Kim Il-sung – her grandfather and the country’s founding ruler – as a foreign language interpreter.

Further roles within the regime’s propaganda and defence departments have been attributed to her by some sources.

Mr Madden added: “When Kim Jong-un assumed the leadership 10 years ago, she was a core elite political supporter, and provided his succession and transition with effectual support.”

The leader’s full sister, Kim Yo-jong, already has a public-facing role within the North Korean regime.

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Kim Sol-song, however, has so far avoided the spotlight – though Mr Madden said that this did not necessarily diminish her influence.

He said: “Kim Sol-song has never been a public figure in North Korean media and political culture.

“In contrast to other political cultures in the world, a North Korean elite does not necessarily need a public profile in order to establish his or her power or influence.

“But it would certainly be quite fascinating if she were to transition to a public role, and to ponder the internal dynamics behind that kind of move.”

South Korea-based website NK News, which monitors goings-on in North Korea, suggested Kim Sol-song could be the mystery woman in a new article.

But Mr Madden urged caution until the woman’s true identity could be confirmed.

He said: “When we are observing North Korea, Kim Sol-song is one of those individuals and lines of inquiry where the information landscape is marked more by smoke than actual fire.

“We do not know if that woman at last week's events is her – it's just speculation.”

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