North Korea's crazy dictator Kim Jong Il and mysterious-and-chubby heir Kim Jong Un aren't quite the Brady Bunch, so why shouldn't the elder Kim's sister turn out to be a raging alcoholic who orchestrated a fatal car accident to bump off a rival and drove her own daughter to suicide? Kim Kyong Hui, who was named a four-star general this week by Dear Leader, is a steely figure who's long lived out of the limelight, writes Philip Shenon for the Daily Beast, and her promotion signals Kim's desire to cement power within the family.
“It’s a sign that she really must be a player, a critical component of the family’s game plan for maintaining itself in power," says a former US diplomat. But Korea-watchers can only speculate about the deeper implications of the sudden prominence of the woman South Korean newspapers have charmingly called "evil:" Will she make a power grab of her own? Will she make one on behalf of Kim Jong Il's older son, whom she reportedly favors? “It’s almost a Shakespearean question when you look at the family machinations,” says the former diplomat. “We’re really groping here—this is the most secretive family in the world.” (Read more Kim Jong Il stories.)