Kim Jong-un’s Sister Denies North Korea Selling Arms to Russia

Kim Yo-jong, the feared sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, has dismissed speculation that her country is trading arms with Russia, calling it “an absurd paradox.” The US and ally South Korea believe the North Korean regime is selling weapons to Russia, and that recent regular munitions displays by Kim Jong-un are his way of showing the world what Russia is receiving. Yo-jung, however, considers the idea laughable and says North Korea would never trade away its military prowess and empower other nations.

A member of the State Affairs Commission and viewed by some as the nation’s future leader, Kim Yo-jong explained that North Korea’s frequent military displays serve to warn its enemies, particularly its democratic neighbor South Korea.

South Korean Defense Minister Shin Wonsik nevertheless testifies that his northward neighbor sent 7,000 containers of weapons to Russia last year and received 9,000 containers of aid in return.

US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said earlier this year that Russia had fired North Korean weapons at Ukraine and was supplying petroleum to North Korea in quantities disallowed under international sanctions. A UN panel monitoring sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear ambitions said in March that Russian shipments exceeded the 500,000 barrels mandated by the UN Security Council. Russia responded by blocking the council’s self-renewal, with critics saying it had done so to prevent further scrutiny of its actions.

Russia and North Korea have openly deepened ties since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Hostility to the United States and its allies has acted as a unifier for the two leaders and provided fertile ground for similarly warm relations with communist China to grow. Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Kim Jong-un last September in Russia amid US warnings that arms trading was the primary objective.

Kim Jong-un stated that they met to demonstrate their alliance’s “strategic importance” on the world stage. Putin said they discussed “bilateral relations” as well as crucial regional and global issues.