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North Korea: Kim Jong Un's Aunt Reported Dead

Image: North Korea: Kim Jong Un's Aunt Reported Dead

By Melanie Batley   |   Tuesday, 07 Jan 2014 12:18 PM

North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un's aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, has either died of a heart attack or committed suicide, according to reports.

The 68-year-old widow of Jang Song Thaek who was purged and executed last month, had been out of the public eye since September 10.

Rumors have been circulating for months about her whereabouts and possible death, though her name was listed as part of a planning committee for the funeral of a high-ranking party official last month shortly after her husband's death.

The report of her death came from the South Korean Chosun Ilbo newspaper which cited a government source, according to Fox News.

"If she is dead, then this is a serious problem for Kim Jong Un," Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo's Waseda University and an authority on North Korean affairs, told U.K.'s Daily Telegraph.

"As the sole daughter of the founder of the nation, she had both authority and legitimacy and she used that to protect Kim Jong Un's government. She was the sun and he was the moon. No one could go against her and she could force the party and the military to obey her orders by invoking her father's name."

Kyong Hui is believed to have been sick for several years and was reportedly treated for cancer and a heart complaint, according to The Telegraph.

It has also been reported that she suffered from alcoholism and depression brought on by the suicide of her daughter in Paris in September 2006, The Telegraph reports.

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