'Assassins': Traitor or innocent? A look at the mysterious deaths in North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's family

The first family of North Korea is elusive and hence, any deaths have been much speculated about


                            'Assassins': Traitor or innocent? A look at the mysterious deaths in North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's family
North Korean Supreme leader Kim Jong-un. (Getty Images)

'Assassins', the recent documentary film by Ryan White covers the infamous assassination of Kim Jong-nam and we realize how chilling a family connection to the Supreme Leader of North Korea could be. When Jong-nam's half brother Kim Jong-un had taken the throne after their father Kim Jong-il's death, Jong-nam was sure that he was in danger and he had said as much to his friend. Just as he had feared, in what is the most infamous assassination in North Korean history, Jong-nam was killed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia. However, he is not the first Kim family member to be killed or mysteriously disappear and today we will take a look at the others associated with the family who suffered the same fate or worse. 

To understand the dynamics between different members of the founding family of North Korea or as they are famously addressed, the Mount Baekdu bloodline dynasty -- it is important to know the history of this three-generational family. North Korea was founded by Kim Il Sung, whose real name happens to be Kim Song-ju. He is the son of a general who belonged to a resistance group that fought against the infiltration of Japanese power in Korea. Kim Il Sung, before he became the first Premier of North Korea in 1948 was a popular Guerilla leader who put up a brave fight against the Japanese forces. He borrowed the name of his uncle Kim Il Sung, and his association with Communism began when he was young. It was in 1910 that his parents fled to Manchuria to escape Japanese rule. Then in his youth, as Song-ju, he became a part of youth politics. He fought against Japan in World War II and so when he returned to the Soviets occupied North Korea, he was celebrated. He also became the chairman of the Korea Workers’ (Communist) Party.

Two years after becoming the Premier of North Korea, Il Sung felt that he had amassed enough power with the Soviets' support to forcefully unite Korea into one and that is why in 1950, he waged a war against South Korea. However, he failed in his attempt and instead began to serve as the President of North Korea in 1972 and kept his position until his death in 1994. After his death, his son Kim Jong-il succeeded him and the complications within the family began with him. Jong-il fell in love with an actress. The man who served as the second Supreme Leader of North Korea between 2009 and 2011 became entangled in a relationship with an actress that his father did not approve of. It was also speculated widely that the birth of Kim Jong-nam was even hidden from his grandfather who did not approve of his mother's relationship with his son and also Jong-il himself. 

Though it's typical for the eldest son to become the heir to the title of Supreme Leader, his older brothers — Kim Jong-chol and his half-brother Kim Jong-nam — were bypassed in favor of Kim Jong-un.Kim Jong Il reportedly rejected Kim Jong-chol from leadership because "he is like a little girl' reports the BBC.

Kim Jong-un has gone to deadly lengths to protect his power from anyone who might oppose him and his authority, including within his own family. Here's a look at the mysterious deaths in the family tree:

Kim Jong-nam - Kim Jong-un's half brother

At the age of 18, Kim Jong-nam returned after European education to North Korea where he reportedly developed the in-country Internet that is used within North Korea but was deeply disturbed by the rules and regulations within the country. So he decided to travel to Japan under a false passport and embarrassingly enough, he also got caught. Not only did he get sidelined, but he was aware that his younger half-brother, Kim Jong-un who took over as the ruler of North Korea in 2011 after their father Kim Jong-il died, might see him as a threat to the autocratic rule. 

Chang Song Thaek - Kim Jong-un's uncle

Chang Song Thaek's death is mysterious because not a lot of information regarding the extent of his power is accessible. The speculation was that Jong-un's uncle had gathered enough support and power during the period when Jong-il's health had declined. He had also taken on the position of de facto leader at this point, while his wife had been appointed as four-star general making her the first woman to gain such visibility and power in the country. In fact, Kim Kyung-hee and her husband Song Thaek were considered to be Kim Jong-un's mentors until 2013 when Song Thaek had been executed. Whatever the conflict was, has not surfaced outside the country and so his cause of death still remains largely unknown. It must be noted that Kyung-hee is Jong-un's paternal aunt. 

Before his execution in 2013, Song Thaek was denounced by the state-run news agency for corruption and pictures of him being removed from a Politburo meeting by uniformed guards were featured. Shortly after, he was executed for corruption and this has been judged as the biggest upheaval in North Korea since Jong-un's father death.

It must also be noted that no information regarding any of Jong Il's romantic partners -- of whom he reportedly has four -- has made it out of the country either. The first family of North Korea is extremely elusive. While Kim Il Sung had been a lot more open about his family and had even appeared with his wife and son in public, Jong Il changed this. After him, the current Supreme Leader of North Korea seems to be following in his father's footsteps as people outside of his country are not even aware of his wife Ri Sol-ju's background. 

These allegations were made by the Internet and individual organizations, MEAWW cannot confirm them independently and nor does it support these claims being made on the Internet. 

Disclaimer : This is based on sources and we have been unable to verify this information independently.