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Rare Photo of Kim Jong-un's Mother Published in Japan

THE CHOSUNILBO logo THE CHOSUNILBO 16/4/2018 By Kim Soo-hye
Kim Jong-un's mother Ko Yong-hui poses in Japan as a member of the Mansudae Art Troupe in 1973, in this photo released by Japan's Mainichi Shimbun on Saturday. © 제공: Chosun Ilbo Kim Jong-un's mother Ko Yong-hui poses in Japan as a member of the Mansudae Art Troupe in 1973, in this photo released by Japan's Mainichi Shimbun on Saturday.

Japan's Mainichi Shimbun daily on Saturday published a rare photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's mother, Ko Yong-hui, who is of uncertain status in the North. 

The picture shows Ko during a 1973 visit to Japan as a member of the Mansudae Art Troupe, before she became then-leader Kim Jong-il's mistress. At the time, she went by the alias "Ryu Il-suk" and performed in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.

Ko was an ethnic Korean from Osaka, Japan, who went to North Korea when she was 10. Her father was caught by Japanese authorities running a smuggling ship and faced being deported, but instead he hoofed it to North Korea. He originally came from South Korea's Jeju Island.

Ko joined the art troupe when she was 19 and became Kim Jong-il's mistress around 1975, giving birth to Kim Jong-chol in 1981, Jong-un in 1984 and Yo-jong in 1987.

The North Korean regime kept her existence secret during her lifetime, not least because her father worked for a military uniform factory in Japan during World War II. 

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