When Kim Jong Il ruled North Korea, his sister Kim Kyung Hee took a powerful role as a personal assistant with high-ranking military and party jobs. She was not seen after her husband, Jang Song Thaek, once regarded as the No.2 leader in Pyongyang, was purged and executed late last year.
According to a North Korean defector, the aunt of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un suffered a fatal stroke while she was on the phone with him, arguing about her husband’s execution.
Her husband, Jang Song Thaek, was executed in December, shocking many observers around the world. Jang, the younger leader’s uncle by marriage, was considered instrumental in his rise to power. Before his execution, he was described as the second-most powerful figure in North Korea.
But the young leader turned his back on Jang in spectacular fashion late last year, having him executed on charges that he tried to overthrow the government. “In the seething period of the effort for building a thriving country last year, we took the resolute measure of removing the factionalists,” the North Korean leader said in a New Year’s address shortly after the execution.
Days after the execution, Jang’s wife suffered her third stroke, according to Kang Myung-do, a defector who was son-in-law to North Korea’s ex-Prime Minister, Kang Sun San.
The death was not announced because she died a few days after her husband and the government did not want people to link her death to his, according to the defector.
Korean media reported that she committed suicide five days after her husband’s execution.