Kim Kyong Hui, the younger sister of Kim Jong-Il and aunt of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, has not been seen in public for months, and media reports are surfacing that she has either died, killed herself, or mysteriously disappeared.
A “government source” told the Chonsun Ilbo, a major South Korean newspaper, that she has died, either by committing suicide or suffering from heart failure. The 67-year old was said to have been in poor health for many years. Argentine media outlet Infobae raises the possibility that Kim Kyong Hui has been sent abroad for health care reasons.
The Daily Mail suggests Singapore or Moscow as possible locations for Kim and adds that she had been reportedly suffering from alcoholism for many years. The New Zealand Herald called her officially dead and posited that Kim Jong-Un might keep the death a secret until he can fully consolidate his power. Nothing has been confirmed by Pyongyang, which is currently pushing a media blitz on the Dennis Rodman/NBA veterans “basketball diplomacy” tour, but Kim Kyong Hui has not been seen in public for months.
South Korean reports have been circulating since Jang’s execution that Kim Kyong Hui was next on the list, dangerous though killing Kim Il Sung’s direct heiress may be for the stability of the regime. One Japanese expert on the North Korean situation told the Telegraph of rumors that Kim Jong-Un was preparing to purge her that “if she disappeared or died, the regime would be badly shaken… it might even be difficult for it to survive.”
Immediately after the purge, the elder Kim seemed to have emerged unscathed–while not seen in public, her name appeared on a government-published roster of leadership positions shortly after Jang Song-Thaek’s execution and public shaming. Some even speculated that it was she who orchestrated her husband’s murder, given the accusations of “womanizing” in the outrageous government statement that followed his execution. That theory, however, does not have much evidence in its favor. Now Kim Kyong Hui has gone missing and outlets have conflicting reports as to why.
Kim Kyong Hui’s disappearance also comes at a convenient time for the young dictator, with the media both paying much more attention than usual to North Korea while distracted by the Great Dennis Rodman Sideshow of 2014. It is also soon to be Kim Jong-Un’s birthday (hence the basketball game), a time in which the residents of the country will be forced into all manner of ceremony for their dear leader; too busy marching in parades to grow concerned about the disappearance of yet another longtime power player in the administration.