February 06, 2017 12:29
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in early 2015 shunted his uncle Kim Pyong-il from his perennial post as ambassador to Poland to the Czech Republic to weaken his position, sources say.
Kim Pyong-il (63), a half-brother of Kim Jong-il, had been ambassador to Poland for 16 years and had an entrenched network of connections there.
The source said Kim Pyong-il was poised to become dean of the diplomatic corps in Warsaw when the incumbent left in late 2014.
The position, which is customarily held by the longest-serving envoy, would have meant hosting various diplomatic events and cementing his status as an influential player on the international stage. Kim Jong-un apparently wanted to avoid this and decided to shunt his uncle abruptly to the Czech Republic.
Kim Pyong-il was born to regime founder Kim Il-sung and his second wife Kim Song-ae.
He was at one point involved in a power struggle with his half-brother but was then sent into cushioned exile, spending altogether 38 years abroad, first as a military attaché in the embassy in Yugoslavia in 1979.
"The presence of Kim Pyong-il, who resembles Kim Il-sung, must be a threat to Kim Jong-un, who is trying to win people's hearts by imitating his grandfather," speculated a researcher at a government-funded think tank here. "It seems the regime has sent a senior officer from the State Security Department to Prague to watch him."
Hong Kong media last year reported that there was a movement among senior defectors to form a government-in-exile with Kim Pyong-il as its head.
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