December 05, 2020

The family feuds of the Kim dynasty

Two deaths, multiple exiles have settled potential disputes between siblings

The sudden dismissal and judicial murder of Jang Song Thaek has attracted much attention to the North Korean royal family. Indeed, Jang’s demise was unprecedented, but this large and steadily growing family has never been free of feuds, quarrels and rivalries. In this regard, it is not much different from most royal families in an absolute monarchy.

Until now, many lesser Kims have found themselves out of favor at some point with the ruling Kim – and therefore have gotten themselves into some degree of trouble. In many cases, their situation was made worse by the politics of the harem (both Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il were active and enthusiastic womanizers, and produced a number of children with different women). In due time, these princes developed bitter rivalries.