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Kim Jong Un's Aunt Makes Appearance, Ending Rumors

Kim Kyong Hui hadn't been seen in years, and some thought she'd been executed
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2020 9:52 AM CST
In this Jan. 25 photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, is seen with his wife Ri Sol Ju, third from right, and his aunt Kim Kyong Hui, second from right,...   (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

(Newser) – She was once an influential figure in North Korea, but Kim Kyong Hui hadn't been seen in public in six years. However, the aunt of Kim Jong Un just made a public appearance, putting an end to rumors she had been executed after her nephew came to power, reports the Guardian. Kyong Hui is the daughter of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung and the sister of the late Kim Jong Il, who succeeded him as the North's leader. When her nephew took over in 2011, Kyong Hui and her husband, Jang Song Taek, were initially a "power couple that formed a kind of regency" behind the young leader, per Reuters—until Kim Jong Un had his uncle executed in a purge.

“Many North Korea watchers had assumed that Kim Kyong Hui had gone into exile or even (been) killed in the wake of her husband’s death, so to see her pop up by the leader’s side some six years later is certainly a surprise,” Oliver Hotham, managing editor of NK News, tells Reuters. He and other observers are trying to parse the significance. It may mean Kyong Hui has regained a position of influence in the regime, or merely that Kim is looking to project an image of family unity as North Korea and the US remained stalled over denuclearization talks, notes the Guardian. (Read more Kim Jong Un stories.)

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