N. Korean leader's aunt appears again in documentary film

By 정주원
  • Published : Apr 30, 2014 - 14:54
  • Updated : Apr 30, 2014 - 14:54
The aunt of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has appeared in a rerun of a documentary film, a move that could confuse outside analysts on whether she was ousted from power.

The North's state television aired the documentary on Tuesday that showed Kim Kyong-hui visiting a soccer stadium along with her nephew Kim Jong-un.

The documentary was first aired on Feb. 11, and North Korea did not edit out scenes of Kim Kyong-hui on Tuesday when it aired a rerun of the film.

On April 20, the North's television also aired a photo of Kim Kyong-hui and her elder brother, long-time leader Kim Jong-il, taken together during their trip to a textile factory in Pyongyang.

Kim Jong-un took over the communist country after his father Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack in December 2011.

The North's confusing signal came two weeks after North Korea aired a rerun of another documentary that edited out scenes of Kim Kyong-hui's trip to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.

The mausoleum in Pyongyang is home to the embalmed bodies of the country's two late leaders, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, who are the grandfather and father of the current leader.

The original version of the documentary showed Kim Kyong-hui paying tribute to Kim Jong-il at the mausoleum in December 2012, along with Kim Jong-un and other top officials.

The documentary was first aired on Dec. 13, just two days after the North executed her once-powerful husband, Jang Song-thaek, on charges of treason.

On Feb. 16, the North's television aired the same documentary, though it edited out scenes of Kim Kyong-hui and replaced them with the ones that showed Kim Jong-un paying tribute to his father in December, along with his wife, Ri Sol-ju.

On April 15, the North's television aired the edited version of the documentary again, prompting South Korean officials to believe that Kim Kyong-hui had been removed from posts related to the Workers' Party.

Still, they have said it remained unclear whether she was purged.

Seoul's unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said Wednesday it had no immediate comment as its officials were checking Kim Kyong-hui's reappearance in a documentary.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said Kim Kyong-hui's reappearance in a documentary film indicated that she was not politically purged.

In December, Kim Kyong-hui failed to show up at the second anniversary of her brother's death, raising questions about her political fate.

Kim Kyong-hui was last seen in public on Sept. 9, when she watched a military performance.

It is a commonly observed practice to airbrush out purged officials in North Korea.

Jang was found to have been edited out of a rerun of a documentary film that aired on the country's main television channel just days before his execution.

North Korea has also deleted Pak Nam-ki, a former chief of the planning and finance department of the ruling party, from all photos and documentary films after his execution in 2010 over his botched currency reform the previous year. (Yonhap)