Kim Jong Un's Next Move: Purge Aunt?

South Korean media reports he wants Kim Kyong Hui out
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2013 8:28 AM CST
Kim Jong Un's Next Move: Purge Aunt?
In this file photo released by the Korean Central News Agency on Dec. 17, 2011, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's son, Kim Jong Un, second row right, rides on an escalator with his aunt Kim Kyong Hui.   (AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service)

Earlier this week came the news that Kim Jong Un had reportedly given his high-ranking uncle, Jang Song Thaek, the boot; now, the Telegraph reports that his aunt—Jang's estranged wife—may be canned next. Kim Kyong Hui is Kim Jong Il's sister, and is said to be doing poorly, sick with cancer and struggling with alcoholism and depression in the wake of her daughter's 2006 suicide. The Telegraph points to South Korean reports that indicate Kim may want his little sister, Kim Yo Jong, to take his aunt's place.

One Japanese expert on North Korea sees this as part of Kim's effort to "bring in a younger generation of decision-makers"—his aunt is 65—but notes that it could be a perilously high-profile move. "If she disappeared or died, the regime would be badly shaken." Speaking of high-profile, Reuters reports that North Korea could have seen "its most serious defection" in a decade and a half. South Korean media today published unconfirmed reports that Jang's unnamed money manager fled North Korea about two months ago, and is being kept safe by South Korean officials in a secret location in China. There is some speculation that the defection could have been at the root of Jang's alleged sacking; Reuters notes that the aide may be privy to information about Kim's money. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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