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Aunt of North Korea's Kim Jong Un missing from list of ruling elites

She is the wife of executed North Korean official Jang Song Thaek.

By
Elizabeth Shim
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his aunt Kim Kyong Hui in 2012, after the elder Kim experienced inexplicable weight loss. Kim is no longer in positions of power, Seoul said Friday. Photo by KCNA/Yonhap
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his aunt Kim Kyong Hui in 2012, after the elder Kim experienced inexplicable weight loss. Kim is no longer in positions of power, Seoul said Friday. Photo by KCNA/Yonhap

SEOUL, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un's once powerful aunt is no longer included on a list of top Pyongyang officials, six months after speculation swirled the North Korean leader had ordered her execution.

South Korea's Unification Ministry stated in an annually issued directory on Friday that Kim Kyong Hui's name was not on the list of cabinet members, the list of Workers' Party secretaries or the Party's Politburo, Yonhap reported.

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Kim, 69, is the wife of executed North Korean official Jang Song Thaek. In May, a high-level defector had said Kim Jong Un had had her poisoned, but sources in North Korea said she was alive and recovering from an alcoholism-related illness at Pyongyang's Bonghwa Clinic.

Kim Kyong Hui also has been absent from public events since late 2013, when Jang was executed on charges that included treason and corruption.

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Kim previously was a top official: a chairwoman of the Politburo of the Workers' Party, secretary of the Party's Secretariat, a member of the Party's Central Committee and a senior delegate of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly. She also held positions in the military.

Her name was missing from all relevant lists, and she only retained minor seats as the party's central committee member, military general and representative for the Supreme People's Assembly.

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"It has been most likely confirmed that Kim Kyong Hui resigned from all official posts following Jang Song Thaek," a South Korean government official said.

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An unidentified Seoul official told South Korean newspaper Herald Business that North Korea does not make public the information on its ruling elite, and that the annual report from the ministry was based on "conservative estimates."

South Korea also stated in the report that Kim Jong Un is believed to have been born on Jan. 8, 1984. In previous statements, Seoul had said Kim's date of birth ranged between 1982 and 1984.

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