There has been an interesting turn of events in North Korea. Today, Kim Kyong Hui (sister to Kim Jong Il, widow to Uncle Jang) is believed to have suffered a heart attack at the age of 67. She has been flown out of Korea for treatment. Many observers have assumed she suffers heart and liver diseases, and she was notably absent from the recent Il Sung and Jong Il memorial service.
While the KWP cadre are making sympathetic noises for her, the truer atmosphere is such that most people seem to genuinely feel pity for Uncle Jang, who was hustled off to an ignoble execution and, in fact, likely could not have been executed without Kyong Hui’s assent. After a push to delete all mention of Jang from print and video record, now the cadre are being ordered to spread rumors attributing all the state’s ills to Jang’s mismanagement.
People on the street find this—unlike tree-bark broth—frankly impossible to swallow: one single man could not possibly be responsible for everything the state claims. Some believe Jang would not have died if he and Kyong Hui had children… yet they did, one daughter (Kum Song) who took her own life in Paris and one son (Kim Song) who is still quietly working in the Central Committee, had been working as an aide to his father until Uncle Jang’s death. I don’t understand the comment in the Daily NK article that suggests people believe they were childless.
- Feb. 27, 2014: At the end of January, Japanese newspapers Yomiuri Shimbun and Yonhap reported Kyong Hui has been transferred to Poland; Polska Times cannot confirm this but mentions it as a rumor. She was not present for paying tribute to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on Feb. 16, having been staying in Switzerland since December.
- March 11, 2014: Someone with Kim Kyong Hui’s name has been elected to parliament. This may be another woman entirely, or it may be a perfunctory naming to the position, regardless of in which country Kim Il Sung’s daughter actually resides.