Kim Pyong Il’s reassignment from his previous post as ambassador to Poland means the continuation of his now 36-year diplomatic career – and effective exile – in Europe. Kim Pyong Il (a.k.a. Kim Phyong Il), born August 10, 1954, is the son of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung and his second wife, Kim Song Ae. He is the younger half-brother of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and uncle to current leader Kim Jong Un.
After graduation from Kim Il Sung Military Academy and several years as a military officer, attaining the rank of major general and serving as a unit commander in North Korea’s Guard Command, Kim was assigned to a diplomatic posting as a military attaché at the DPRK embassy in Yugoslavia, in 1979. Since that time, Kim has remained in Europe, reassigned as ambassador to Hungary in 1988, ambassador to Finland in 1994 and ambassador to Poland in 1998.
Kim’s decades-long service abroad has served as means for the North Korean regime to effectively exile him far from the country without purging him. When Kim Jong Il was first declared Kim Il Sung’s successor in 1974 there were concerns about the presence of another son of Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang. Although Kim Pyong Il is not known to have displayed any intent to usurp his brother’s position, he was popular among some officials and there were fears he could be used by potential rivals within the regime as an alternative claimant to the country’s leadership.
The continued assignment of Kim abroad ensures neither he nor his two children – daughter Kim Un Song and son Kim In Kang – can become potential rivals – or puppets thereof – to Kim Jong Un.
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons
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