N. Korea creates cult around mother of Kim Jong II's son

Kyodo News/February 15, 2003

Seoul -- Work has begun in North Korea to propagate a cult around North Korean leader Kim Jong II's current wife Ko Yong Hee, according to an internal military document obtained by Kyodo News from reliable sources Saturday.

The propaganda is seen to indicate the start of preparations to groom Kim Jong Chol, Kim Jong II's 21-year-old second son born from Ko, as the leader's successor.

The propaganda surrounding Ko began in the summer of last year, according to the documents.

Kim Jong II inherited leadership of the country after the death of his father, the founder of North Korea, Kim II Sung in 1994.

The existence of Ko, who is said to be a Japan-born Korean around 50 years old, has until now been hidden from view. The document in question marks the first confirmed praise of her in internal documents.

Kim Jong II's eldest son, Kim Jong Nam, 31, had previously been touted as the leader's heir-apparent. However, he now appears to be out of the leadership race since being deported from Japan in May 2001 for using a false passport and the death of his mother Sung Hae Rim. He has yet to return to North Korea.

In a ''lecture document'' titled ''We shall defend to the death the high command of the revolution led by great comrade Kim Jong II'' published by the (North) Korean People's Army in August 2002 as a restricted document, Ko is lauded in terms as a ''mother.''

As an apparent guide to furthering the stature of Ko in the miIitary, the document says, ''The esteemed mother (Ko) is the most loyal among the endlessly loyal to the revered supreme commander comrade (Kim Jong II).''

Moreover, Ko is commended on par with Kim Jong II's mother Kim Jong Sook, considered one of the country's ''three generals'' along with the leader and his father.

The document goes on to cite numerous instances of Ko accompanying her husband on inspections of the military and his on-site guidance tours and gives examples of how well she understands and looks after the safety and health of the leader.

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