Grave of N.Korean Leader's Grandfather Found on Jeju

The graves of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's maternal grandfather and great-grandfather have been discovered on Jeju Island.

Ko Kyong-taek was born on the island in 1913 and lived there until he moved to Japan. His daughter Kyong-hui later married then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Ko's background in what had become South Korea was swept under the carpet. The location of his grave was so far unknown.

But there is some propaganda mileage in the home of Kim Jong-un's maternal family. On April 3, 1948, Jeju was the scene of a communist revolt that ended with a bloody crackdown. Many people headed to Japan to escape the bloodshed.

Under North Korea's bizarre clan-based communism, Kim Jong-un draws his legitimacy from his direct descent from nation founder Kim Il-sung, what is reverently called the "Baekdu bloodline" after Kim Il-sung's alleged birthplace. But there is also a respected "Halla bloodline" of revolutionaries, borrowing the name of the mountain in middle of Jeju, into which his ancestry could by some stretch be shoehorned.

Records show Ko Kyong-taek moved to Osaka in 1929, long before the uprising, and worked in a munitions factory. He fathered one son and two daughters in Japan, including Ko Kyong-hui. In 1962 he was arrested for human trafficking and deported, choosing North Korea over the South.

His daughter joined the Mansudae dance troupe, where she caught Kim Jong-il's eye in 1971. The two had three children -- Jong-chol, Jong-un and Yeo-jong. Ko died of breast cancer in France in 1984.

Her older brother, Dong-hun served as a North Korean diplomat in the 1990s, while her younger sister Yong-suk defected to the U.S. with her husband in 1998 after living in Geneva, where they managed Kim Jong-il's secret funds.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 28, 2014 09:58 KST