North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Kim Kyong Hui in the North Country?

Kim Kyong Hui (Kim Kyo’ng-hu’i) reportedly visited Onso’ng County, North Hamgyo’ng Province, on 26 May.  A Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary and Political Bureau member, as well as Kim Jong Un’s aunt and Kim Jong Il’s sister,  Kim visited a historical site at Mt. Wangjae, among other locales.  In an official career that has spanned four decades, she regularly conducted unpublicized inspections and visits to military units, factories and historical sites throughout the country.  This appears to be the first account of her making an independent public appearance since her brother’s death in December 2011, although it is highly likely there have been previous visits.  Kim’s presence in a county on the DPRK-China border fuels the rumor engine chugging a potential visit to China by Kim Jong Un.  During June and July 2011 Kim Kyong Hui visited Europe and the Russian Federation; on 20 August 2011, Kim Jong Il’s train crossed the DPRK-Russia border which began a five day sojourn through Russia that culminated in a meeting with its former president, Dmitry Medvedev.

Kim Young-jin writes in Korea Times:

Sources in Onsong County, North Hamgyeong Province told RFA that Kim, the younger sister of late despot Kim Jong-il, made the unexpected visit on May 26.

Authorities stepped up security in preparation for the visit, quickly raising speculation Kim Jong-un could be passing through on his way to China ­ his country’s main source of trade and aid.

Instead, sources said his aunt inspected historical sites including a monument at Mt. Wangjae, where her father, country founder Kim Il-sung, once made a speech. Electricity supply to the county increased the night before her arrival, the report said.

A member of the ruling Workers’ Party politburo and four-star general, Kim is one of a coterie of close aides seen to be guiding the leader.

Some watchers speculate that Kim Jong-un will soon visit China to cement the special ties the sides share. They say chances of such a visit would be bolstered if Pyongyang does not carry out a third nuclear test to follow its April long-range rocket launch.

Chinese news agency Xinhua last month reported that Pyongyang had no intention of carrying out the test, despite satellite imagery showing preparations had been made. Beijing is reportedly putting heavy pressure on Pyongyang to cease its provocations and reenter regional denuclearization talks.

It would be his first trip abroad after being handed power following the death of Kim Jong-il, his father.

The late dictator made multiple visits to China in recent years, seen as efforts to boost cooperation amid Pyongyang’s growing isolation and as he prepared to hand power to his son.

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