Kim Il Sung’s Family Line and Its Conflicts

Now let me briefly introduce the Kim Il Sung family line.

Kim Il Sung (whose real name was Kim Sung Ju) had two brothers. His second brother, Kim Cheol Ju, died before the liberation, while the youngest, Kim Young Ju, is still alive. Kim Il Sung also had cousins, with Kim Chang Ju being one of the relatively well-known among them as a vice-minister on the State Affairs Committee (the former Cabinet), but one whose health eventually stopped him working any longer (he died in 2003).

Kang Hyeon Su, the son of Kim Il Sung’s uncle on his mother’s side, was Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang Municipal Committee of the Central Committee for a long time. Lee Yong Mu, a son of Kim Il Sung’s aunt, was first an official within the military authorities and is now the Chairman of the Transport Committee. He has recently risen as one of Kim Jong Il’s close associates. But the most powerful among Kim Il Sung’s relatives are or were his cousins on his father’s side. The elder daughter’s husband is Yang Hyeong Seop (Supreme People’s Committee’s Permanent Vice-chairperson), and the younger daughter’s husband was Heo Dam (former chairman of the North Korean Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, died in 1991).

These people in the line on Kim Il Sung’s aunt’s side and the other cousins from the line of Kim Chang Ju, Kim Il Sung’s uncle’s side, once had a bitter rivalry. However, Yang Hyeong Seop and Heo Dam’s line came to enjoy overwhelming superiority. Kim Sung Ae, Kim Il Sung’s second wife, and Kim Il Sung’s cousins, Kim Shin Suk (Yang Hyeong Seop’s wife) and Kim Jeong Suk (Heo Dam’s wife), were from the same neighborhood, but did not get along well.

Kim Jong Il has been excluding Kim Sung Ae from power, while the sisters, Kim Shin Suk and Kim Jeong Suk, joined Kim Jong Il. Kim Chang Ju’s side was defeated by Kim Shin Suk and Kim Jeong Suk, and many of those from his side finally committed suicide.

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