North Korea: Kim Jong-un's Auntie Survives Husband's Execution

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By Fiona Keating | December 15, 2013 10:15 PM EST

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) with his aunt Kim Kyong-hui (L) in Pyongyang.

Kim Kyong-hui, the aunt of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has been named as a member of a prestigious committee, indicating she remains inside the regime's inner circle - so far.

The younger sister of late leader Kim Jong-iI (the father of current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un) was named in a state media dispatch as part of a funeral committee for fellow senior Workers' Party official Kim Kuk-thae.

The 67-year-old was placed sixth in a sequence that listed more than 50 funeral committee members. There were fears that her future was in question after her husband Jang Song-thaek was executed for trying to overthrow the government.

Kim ordered his uncle Jang's execution last week, branding him "despicable scum who plotted coup", just days before the second anniversary of the death of Kim Jong-iI.

North Korea will mark the second anniversary of the late leader's demise on Tuesday.

News agency KCNA said Kim had been asked to prepare the funeral for Kim Kuk-thae, chairman of the Control Commission of the ruling Workers' Party.

Kim Kyung-hui is believed to be a powerful force in North Korean politics - daughter of the country's first leader, sister of its second and aunt of its third. Some even believe she sanctioned the execution of her husband.

"The final decision on Jang Song-thaek was made by Kim Jong-un and Jang's wife, Kim Kyung-hui," said Lee Yun-keol, the head of the North Korea Strategic Information Service Centre, based in Seoul. "Jang was chosen as a prey by his wife and nephew to maintain the Kim dynasty regime."

The North Korean leader's aunt went into communist politics early and against her father's wishes, the Eternal President of the Republic, Kim Il-sung, married Jang.

The couple had met at university in Pyongyang, and she went with him to Moscow, where they both studied. They were married in 1972 and they went on to have a daughter, Jang Kum-song.

On leaving Pyongyang to study in Paris, their daughter refused to return and committed suicide in 2006 when her parents were unhappy with her choice of boyfriend.

Kim Kyung-hui has held a number of senior positions within the North Korean regime - a general in the army, head of the "organisation and guidance department" and ruler of an economic policy unit.

She also owns North Korea's first hamburger restaurant, the Samtaeseong Diner - with hamburgers renamed and rebranded "minced meat and bread", as the American fast food has connotations of degeneracy.

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