Seoul, Dec 15 (EFE).- Kim Yong-ju, the youngest brother of North Korea founder Kim Il-sung, has died at age of 101, state media reported Wednesday.
Current leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday sent a wreath “expressing deep condolences over his death,” according to the KCNA, which did not state when he died.
“Kim Yong Ju devotedly struggled to implement the Party’s lines and policies and made a contribution to accelerating socialist construction and developing the Korean-style state social system, while working at important posts of the Party and the state for many years,” the text said.
The brief note recalled that he was honorary vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly, and that he received the order of Kim Il-sung and also the order of Kim Jong-il.
It was his nephew Kim Jong-il (father of the current leader) who derailed his rise to power.
Kim Yong-ju was born in 1920, eight years after his brother Kim Il-sung, outside Pyongyang.
He spent his childhood in Manchuria, northeast China, where it is believed he was able to work as a translator for the forces of the Japanese imperial occupation against which his own brother fought.
He graduated in economics from Moscow State University in 1945, the year in which the Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula ended, and later returned to North Korea, where his brother had been appointed by Soviet forces to lead the new country.
Kim Yong-ju rose through the ranks of the regime, and by the early 1970s he was one of the leading candidates to inherit the positions of Kim Il-sung, along with Kim Jong-il and his half-brother, Kim Pyong-il.
He would participate in the talks sponsored by the Red Cross that in 1972 would lead to the first joint declaration of North and South Korea after the war, a text that urged to work for a “peaceful reunification.”
Kim Jong-il would end up imposing himself on his two rivals and by 1974 – the year in which Kim Yong-ju was placed as vice prime minister – he was already the person designated to command the country, something he would do officially from 1994, when Kim Il-sung died, until his passing in 2011.
Starting in 1975, Kim Yong-ju disappeared from the political scene for two decades until reappearing in the 1990s to support, as vice president, the transition to power of his nephew.
The last images of Kim Yong-ju reproduced by North Korean propaganda date from 2015. EFE