North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Jong Un’s Mother’s Birthplace

The birthplace of Ko Yong-hui, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's third wife and mother of Kim's heir apparent Jong-un, is featured in the latest edition of AERA, a Japanese news magazine. The weekly said the site in Tsuruhashi, Osaka, still remains vacant. (Yonhap)

The Japanese magazine AERA has published a photograph and feature on the birthplace and early childhood home of Kim Chong-un’s mother, Ko Yong-hui.  Madame Ko was born Ko Chun-haeng in Tsuruhashi, Osaka, Japan in 1952.  Her family emigrated to the DPRK in the 1960s.  Ko met Kim Chong-il in the 1970s.  At the time she was a dancer in the Mansudae Art Troupe, which performed at one of the leadership’s parties.  She became KCI’s 3rd wife and gave birth to son Kim Chong-chol in September 1981, Chong-un in 1983 or ’84 and daughter Kim Yo-chong in 1989.  Unlike KCI’s other wives and significant consorts, Ko was a minor player in regime politics and pressed the hereditary succession of Kim Chong-chol.  She passed away in the summer of 2004.

Has the regime conclusively buried any possibility of a Kim Chong-chol succession?  On 30 November KCNA reported that the Tongmun Secondary School in North Pyongan was renamed in honor of a Kim Jong Chol.  According to KCNA, a member of the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces named Kim Jong Chol died during an accident at the Huichon Power Station construction site.  One wonders if this is also the security official of the same name whom the DPRK media praised for heroism after the April 2004 explosion at a North Pyongan railway station that occurred hours after KCI’s train left the station.


Ko Yong-hui, who ws a model for a periodical titled "Collection of Korean Folk Songs"

Kim Chong-chol photographed with a girlfriend attending an Eric Clapton concert in Germany during the summer of 2006. Kim Chong-chol was observed posing for a commemorative photograph in 2009 with his siblings and members of the central leadership. Chong-chol was not observed at the commemortive photo session held during the 3rd Party Conference in September 2010.


This article was written on 07 Dec 2010, and is filled under Kim Family, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un, KJI Personal Secretariat, kpif, leadership succession, North Korean press, succession.

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