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Attention drawn to roles of N. Korean leader`s siblings

Posted December. 19, 2013 03:15,   


Following North Korea`s recent execution of Jang Song Thaek, its leader Kim Jong Un`s uncle-in-law and the No. 2 man in Pyongyang, attention is drawn to the roles of other members of Kim`s family.

The North Korean leader`s older brother Kim Jong Chol and younger sister Kim Yo Jong did not show up at a memorial ceremony in Pyongyang marking the second anniversary of their father and former leader Kim Jong Il on Tuesday. They were not present at last year`s ceremony, either. Some observers projected that they would likely show up at this year`s event, as the North Korean state-controlled media continued to emphasize the "Baekdu bloodline," which refers to the Kim family. However, they have yet to appear in public.

Experts say that the North is unlikely to disclose activities by members of the Kim family other than Kim Jong Un for the time being. "Currently, the North is going through an important process of solidifying Kim Jong Un`s monolithic leadership system," said Jeong Yeong-tae, a senior researcher at Korea Institute for National Unification in South Korea. "The appearance of his siblings would be poisonous because they could disperse domestic and overseas attention and North Korean residents` loyalty to the leader."

In particular, Kim Jong Chol, who is Kim Jong Un`s older brother but failed to inherit power from his late father, is unlikely to play big roles in the future. The older Kim is said to be quiet and intrinsically indifferent to politics. "Although there have been media reports claiming that Kim Jong Chol played a leading role in Jang`s execution, it is not possible that he was given that much authority," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at University of North Korean Studies. "He could play the role of a private assistant to Kim Jong Un without holding any official title."

However, some experts say that Kim Yo Jong could possibly inherit the roles of Kim Kyong Hui, the leader`s aunt and only political guardian in the Kim family, after she dies. In November last year, the North Korean media showed the younger Kim riding horses with Kim Jong Un and Kim Kyong Hui. Although it has not been confirmed yet whether she holds any official title, she is reportedly in charge of protocols for the leader as a director of the secretariat or propaganda department of the North`s ruling Workers` Party.

"According to people overseas who have met with Kim Yo Jong, she is too young to be trained well enough to appear on public occasions," said Jeong Seong-jang, a senior researcher at Seoul`s Sejong Institute. "It is possible that she will take a key part post after naturally learning the North`s internal situation while taking care of Kim Jong Un`s schedules."