When it comes to authoritarian rule in North Korea, it is very much a family affair.
Since Kim Il-sung founded the secretive Democratic People's Republic back in 1948, the supreme leadership of the nation has been passed down a bloodline.
Now the nation's fate lies in the hands Kim Jong Un, but his relationships with some family members have been testing to say the least.
Notably there was the relationship with his older brother Kim Jong-nam, who once was considered the heir-apparent to his father.
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After becoming a vocal critic of the regime and fleeing the nation in exile, he later died horrifically in a Malaysian airport in February 2017 in an apparent assassination when two women attacked him with a nerve agent.
They said they thought they were taking part in a TV prank and murder charges were dropped.
North Korea denied any role in the killing.
Before Kim Jong-nam's death, in 2013 Kim Jong Un, just two years into his leadership, signed off on the execution of his uncle Jang Song-thaek. The nation's state media labelled Jang Song-thaek a "traitor for all ages" who sought to grab power.
However, Kim Jong Un's relationship with his younger sister Kim Yo-jong appears to be headed in a totally opposite direction.
She is the only close relative of the North Korean leader who has gone on to play a public role in politics, with experts saying she is fast "becoming Jong-un's alter ego".
She is even considered by some to be his potential successor. In fact, when rumours swirled in April that Kim Jong Un could be dead, Kim Yo-jong was touted as the most likely candidate to take over leadership of the rogue nation.
Believed to be in her early 30s, Yo-jong first came into the public eye in 2018 when she led a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Later, she was often seen dashing about to make sure everything went well for her older brother, including holding an ashtray for him at a train station on his way to a summit with US President Donald Trump in Vietnam.
But this year, Kim has taken on a more public policy role, cementing her status as an influential political player in her own right.
"Prior to this, Kim Yo-jong was portrayed in state media as Kim Jong Un's sister, his protocol officer, or one of his accompanying officials," said Rachel Minyoung Lee, a former North Korea open source intelligence analyst in the US government.
"Now, North Koreans know for sure there is more to her than that."
As tensions flared with South Korea this week, she has been thrust deeper into the heart of the government's decision-making.
This week, North Korea announced it was cutting off all communication channels with South Korea over its inability to prevent North Korean defectors and other activists from flying leaflets across the border.
For years, activists have floated huge balloons into North Korea carrying leaflets criticising leader Kim Jong Un, and the government has had enough.
When state media announced that hotlines between North and South Korea would be severed, they said Kim Yo-jong and a longtime hardliner, Kim Yong-chol, championed the decision at a meeting.
This rare explanation of a policymaking process portrayed Kim Yo-jong as "a very substantive person," said Michael Madden, a North Korea leadership expert at the Stimson Centre, a US-based think tank.
Mr Madden said this new portrayal of Yo-jong in state media may be a subtle dig at international analysts who have cast doubts on her ability to wield influence in the North's male-dominated society.
"They clearly have high hopes and expectations for her," he told Reuters. "Not necessarily the next leader, but something of a king-maker nonetheless."
She has worked behind the scenes in North Korea's propaganda agencies, a role that led the US to add her to a list of sanctioned senior officials in 2017 because of human rights abuses and censorship.
In March, Yo-jong she made her first public statement, condemning the South as a "frightened dog barking" after Seoul protested against a live-fire military exercise by the North.
Also that month, she publicly praised Mr Trump for sending her brother a letter in which he said he hoped to maintain good bilateral relations and offered help in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
Youngshik Bong, a research fellow at Yonsei University's Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul, said the increasing number of Yo Jong's powerfully worded public statements show she could be following in her brother's footsteps.
"It is revealing that Kim Jong Un permitted her to write and announce a scathing statement about South Korea in such a personal tone," Professor Bong told 'The Guardian'. "He is clearly ready to allow his sister to become his alter-ego."
Rachel Lee said Kim's statements have a unique style, showcasing her wit and underscoring her powerful position.
"In addition to the harsh words and sarcasm, they can be bitingly witty in ways that the other statements are not," Lee said. "She seems to have more leeway in crafting her statements, which of course is not surprising."
Her rise to power comes at a tumultuous time, even by North Korea's standards.
There are reports of "widespread food shortages and malnutrition" in the isolated nation due to a five-month border closure with China and measures taken against Covid-19.
"Lack of food had a devastating impact in the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) in the 1990s, and prospects of a further deepening of food shortages and widespread food insecurity are alarming," Tomas Ojea Quintana, a UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, said this week.
"There have been reports of an increase of homeless people in large cities – including kotjebi (street children) – and medicine prices have reportedly skyrocketed. An increasing number of families eat only twice a day, or eat only corn, and some are starving."
Tension with the South is not easing either, despite the South Korea's government saying this week it will press charges against two activist groups that have been floating anti-Pyongyang leaflets and bottles filled with rice to North Korea.
Experts say North Korea's move to cut off communication channels was likely more than just about leafleting as it comes after months of frustration over Seoul's unwillingness to defy US-led sanctions and resume inter-Korean economic projects that would breathe life into the North's broken economy.
North Korea has suspended virtually all co-operation with South Korea in recent months amid a stalemate in larger nuclear negotiations with Washington.
The talks faltered last year with the Americans rejecting the North's demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.