Kim Jong-il’s sister powers up in North Korea

19 02 2010

Sydney Morning Herald (February 18, 2010)

(AFP) Kim Jong-Il’s only sister appears to be wielding more power in North Korea after making a comeback to the frontline of the regime last year, says South Korea.

Kim Kyong-Hui, 64, was newly added to a diagram of the North’s power structure released by the South’s unification ministry after returning to the public spotlight for the first time in nearly six years.

The annually updated diagram, which offers a glimpse into changes in the North’s elite power system, showed her heading an organ which oversees light industries under the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.

“Since her comeback, the sister has frequently accompanied Kim Jong-Il in his field inspections,” ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-Joo told AFP. Intelligence officials say Kim Jong-Il, who turned 68 on Tuesday, has increasingly relied on his family to exercise his power after reportedly suffering a stroke in 2008, the Yonhap news agency reported.

The sister’s comeback also reflects Pyongyang’s resolve to revive its economy and pave the way for a family power succession, it added. Her husband Jang Song-Thaek has strengthened his image as the leader’s right-hand man amid speculation he will play the role of regent as the leader grooms his youngest son Jong-Un to take over.

In the meantime, NK Leadership Watch reports: Kim Kyong-hui, Kim Jong-il’s younger sister, is swiftly becoming her brother’s favorite traveling companion on his guidance and inspection tours.  As of 22 January, General-Secretary Kim had made eleven (11) appearances, and Ms. Kim was identified by name in the North Korean press as being a member of General-Secetary Kim’s travel party on six (6) occasions.  Kim Kyong-hui is a bit camera-shy, and it is likely that she has appeared at all of General-Secretary Kim’s visits…

…Kim Kyong-hui sporadically joined her brother’s visits in 2009 (You can read a general post about Ms. Kim and her appearance in 2009 here).  She more or less became a fixture in General-Secretary Kim’s travel party by the late fall of 2009.  In November, a report appeared in JoongAng Daily that Kim Kyong-hui had taken over management of the Personal Secretariat, including coordinating her brother’s schedule and security arrangements from (ex-) cohort Kim Ok.**  Unlike Kim Ok who was cloistered in General-Secretary Kim’s personal life and administrative apparatus, Kim Kyong-hui (despite having kept a low profile for many years) can work in the Personal Secretariat while maintaining a public profile.  She is, after all, the only daughter of the late DPRK President Kim Il-sung and Revolutionary Mother Kim Jong-suk, in addition to being a long-time SPA Deputy (delegate) and Central Committee member.

Ms. Kim’s presence may also be related to succession, in addition to attending to her brother and serving as the face of the DPRK’s light industry. Two reports in late December/early January said that Kim Jong-un [Eun] had joined General-Secretary Kim’s inspection tours in the latter part of 2009.  Kim Kyong-hui has been identified by Yonhap, among other sources, as one of Jong-un’s [Eun] leadership tutors.  She may be sitting on the sidelines with her nephew (y’ know away from cameras) inculcating him in the way of on-the-spot-guidance and providing him a formal introduction to various KWP cadres.  Kim Kyong-hui’s presence from late Spring 2009 to the present also indicates to an internal mid-to-senior audience (those in the know in Pyongyang and elsewhere) that the Kim Family and core North Korean elites have reached consensus on succession…

See the rest of the story at NK Leadership Watch…

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