A North Korean defector told CNN that dictator Kim Jong-un placed orders to murder his aunt Kim Kyong Hui, the daughter of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung.
“On May 5th or 6th of last year,” explains Mr. Park, who spoke anonymously to protect family and friends in the brutal regime, “Kim Jong Un ordered his aunt, Kim Kyong Hui to be killed. Only his bodyguard unit, Unit 974, knew this–now senior officials also know she was poisoned.”
She allegedly vocalized many complaints after Kim Jong-un executed her husband Jang Song Thaek in December 2013. Such an order to kill a direct descendent of Kim Il-Sung is unprecedented, as he is revered as a god in the repressive kingdom. His kin are thought to be untouchable.
She disappeared from the public in September 2013. Rumors spread that she was incapacitated due to complications from alcoholism, a stroke, heart attack, or surgery to relieve a brain tumor. Others believe she committed suicide. In February, the South Korean spy agency claimed she was not dead.
A source in Pyongyang told The Daily NK that Kim Kyong Hui is still alive to refute Park’s claims.
“Kim Kyong Hui is going back and forth between Sobaeksu Villa in Samjiyon, Yangkang Province and Pyongyang’s Ponghwa Treatment Center to receive treatment and recuperate; she is not dead,” insisted the anonymous source, adding:
(Following the execution of Jang Song Thaek) her preexisting nerve disorder grew much worse, so she has received a great deal of subsequent treatment. During this process, Kim Jong Un even personally asked the doctors to treat her well. Kim has made personal visits to the treatment center to check in with the medical staff to track her recovery.
Kim Jong-un expelled her husband from the Workers’ Party of Korea in a very public show. North Korean state media broadcast his arrest, while pictures published by international media showed Jang Song Thaek dragged away in handcuffs. The dictator called his uncle “human scum” and “worse than a dog.” He insisted Jang attempted to overthrow the regime. Park worked closely with Jang and told CNN the accusations were not true. He also said “in less than a week,” authorities tried and executed him “in an underground secret room.” However, authorities did publicly execute “up to 30 aides of his and his wife’s aides” with “four-barrel machine guns.”
Remco Breuker, a professor of Korean studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, told The Independent he doubts Park’s claims. He does think Kim Kyong Hui is ill, but fully alive. He does not believe Kim Jong-un would ever murder a blood relative.
“The report comes from a defector whose family name is given but nothing else. Usually when defectors break stories–and they do and they are often reliable–you know who is saying what,” he said. “This is the kind of thing the public likes to believe about North Korea. I talked to other analysts and they were actually very angry; they said the chances that this actually happened are very, very slim, but once it gets exposed, it’s those who have been exiled who have to pay the price.”