North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s aunt may not have been elected to the country’s rubber-stamp parliament, Seoul officials said Thursday, a possible scenario that could suggest her political fate has been affected by the execution of her husband.
Kim Kyong-hui, a senior ruling Workers’ Party secretary, has failed to show up at key anniversary events in North Korea following the bloody purge of her once-powerful husband, Jang Song-thaek, in December on charges of treason, sparking rampant speculation over her political fate.
North Korea has announced that a total of 687 new deputies were elected to the one-house legislature, called the Supreme People’s Assembly, in the March 9 elections.
Although the assembly is a rubber-stamp body, it is widely recognized as a who’s who of the North’s power elite representing the government, the party and the military, which form the backbone of the communist leadership.
According to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, those elected include the leader himself and Kim Kyong-hui.
Still, South Korea cautioned that the Kim Kyong-hui mentioned may be a different person with the same name, citing her constituency No. 285 in North Pyongan Province near the border with China.
An official of the unification ministry said key officials were elected in constituencies in Pyongyang, the North’s capital.
There appears to be little reason for (the leader’s aunt) “Kim Kyong-hui to run for a seat in North Pyongan Province,” the official said.
A South Korean intelligence official also said the leader’s aunt may not have been elected to the parliament either because of voluntary reasons or due to friction with leader Kim Jong-un.
Kim Kyong-hui, who was elected on Sunday, seems to be a different person with the same name as the leader’s aunt, the intelligence official said. In previous elections in 2009, Kim Kyong-hui, a person with the same name as the leader’s aunt, was elected in constituency No. 265 in North Pyongan Province.
The two South Korean officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the issue’s sensitivity.
An analysis of the election results showed that most of those who were considered close to Jang, the once-powerful uncle of the North’s young leader Kim, have been elected, a possible indication that the leader is confident enough not to worry about any backlash from the purge, according to analysts. (Yonhap)