Kim Jong-un Celebrates Father's Birthday as Brother Dies

      February 17, 2017 13:03

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-un paid his respects to the pickled corpse of his father in Pyongyang on Thursday, days after apparently having his brother assassinated in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

      Kim junior showed up at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to mark what would have been former leader Kim Jong-il's 75th birthday.

      There has been no mention of his brother Kim Jong-nam's death in the North Korean state media, perhaps because the regime's propaganda apparatus has not yet decided how to spin it. But North Korean Embassy officials have demanded that Malaysia hand over Jong-nam's body.

      The North's official Korean Central News Agency published a photo of Kim Jong-un in a black Mao suit visiting the palace, and the Rodong Sinmun daily had only one close-up of Kim laying a wreath.

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang along with top apparatchiks on Thursday in this picture from the Rodong Sinmun daily.

      Kim was accompanied by top apparatchiks, but in a further sign that a purge is underway, the regime's No. 2 man Choe Ryong-hae, a party vice chairman, did not show up at Thursday's event. He was also absent from a party meeting the previous day.

      Choe has had a yo-yo-ing career in the past few years, rising to the No. 2 position after Kim executed his uncle Jang Song-thaek in 2013 but being packed off to a re-education camp in November 2015, only to be reinstated later.

      But a source said there are intelligence reports that Choe has been on a visit to China since Sunday, perhaps summoned there to explain the regime's test of a new ballistic missile. Choe also met Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 and 2015.

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