Ko Yong-hui (Hangul: 고용희; Hanja: 高容姬; 26 June
1952 – 24 May 2004), also spelled Ko Young-hee, was the
North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-il's consort and mother of North
Korea's current leader, Kim Jong-un. Within North Korea she is only
referred to by titles, such as "The Respected Mother who is the Most
Faithful and Loyal 'Subject' to the Dear Leader Comrade Supreme
Commander", "The Mother of Pyongyang", and "The Mother of Great Songun
2 Cult of personality
3 See also
5 External links
Born in Osaka, Japan. Ko's birth date and Japanese name in Japanese
official records are 26 June 1952 and Takada Hime, respectively.
Her father, Ko Gyon-tek, worked in an
Osaka sewing factory run by
Japan's ministry of war. She, along with her family, moved to
North Korea in May 1961 or in 1962 as part of a repatriation
program. In the early 1970s, she began working as a dancer for
Mansudae Art Troupe in Pyongyang. Her younger sister Ko
Yong-suk sought asylum from the U.S. embassy in Bern, Switzerland
while she was living there taking care of
Kim Jong-un during his
school days, according to South Korea's National Intelligence Service;
U.S. officials arranged Ko Yong-suk's departure from the country
without consulting South Korean officials.
It is thought that Ko and
Kim Jong-il first met in 1972. In 1981,
Ko gave birth to son Kim Jong-chul, her first child with Kim. It was
Kim's third child, after son
Kim Jong-nam (born 1971 to Song Hye-rim),
Kim Sol-song (born 1974 to Kim Young-sook). Kim Jong-il's
second child with Ko, the present North Korean supreme leader Kim
Jong-un, followed one to three years after Jong-chul. Their third
child, Kim Yo-jong, a daughter, was believed to be about 23 in
2012. However, the birth year of
Kim Yo-jong is also given as
On 27 August 2004, various sources reported that she had died in Paris
from unspecific illness, probably of breast cancer. However, there
is another report, stating that she was treated in
Paris in the spring
of 2004 and flown back to
Pyongyang where she fell into a coma and
died in August 2004.
Kim Jong-un built a grave for Ko on Mount Taesong.
Cult of personality
Under North Korea's songbun ascribed status system, Ko's
Korean-Japanese heritage would make her part of the lowest "hostile"
class. Furthermore, her father worked in a sewing factory for the
Imperial Japanese Army, which would give her the "lowest imaginable
status qualities" for a North Korean.
Prior to an internal propaganda film released after the ascension of
Kim Jong-un, there were three attempts made to idolize Ko, in a style
similar to that associated with Kang Pan-sok, mother of Kim Il-sung,
and Kim Jong-suk, mother of
Kim Jong-il and the first wife of Kim
Il-sung. These previous attempts at idolization failed and were
stopped after Kim Jong-il's 2008 stroke.
The building of a cult of personality around Ko encounters the problem
of her bad songbun, even though it is usually passed on by the
father. Making her identity public would undermine the Kim
dynasty's pure bloodline, and after Kim Jong-il's death, her
personal information, including name, became state secrets. Ko's
real name and other personal details have not been publicly revealed
in North Korea, and she is referred to as "Mother of Great Songun
Korea" or "Great Mother". The most recent propaganda film called its
main character "Lee Eun-mi".
North Korea portal
List of Korea-related topics
List of Koreans
Politics of North Korea
History of North Korea
Select[α] family tree of North Korea's ruling[β] Kim
^ To keep the tree of manageable size, it omits some members, e. g.,
brothers and sisters of Kim Jong-il.
^ Names of Supreme Leaders of the DPRK (and the name of the article
being viewed, if any) are in bold font.
^ Korean names often have a variety of transliterations into English,
which can be confusing. For example, "Kim Jong-chul" may also be
written "Gim Jeong-cheol" or "Kim Jŏng-ch'ŏl" among many other
Korean romanization for more information.
^ Huss, Kan; Frost, Clay. "North Korea's First Family: Mapping the
personal and political drama of the Kim clan". msnbc.com. Retrieved 20
January 2013. (Confirms many, but not all, of the birth and
death years. See individual articles for more references.)
^ Yan, Holly (16 February 2017). "The world's most mysterious family
tree: Kim Jong Un's secretive dynasty is full of drama, death". Design
by Alberto Mier. CNN. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
^ a b c Official biographies of
Kim Jong-suk and
Kim Jong-il give
birth years of 1917 and 1942, respectively.
Kim Ju-ae may have been
born in late 2012 or early 2013.
^ "North Korea leader lies in state". BBC. 18 December 2011. Archived
from the original on 20 December 2011.
^ Yoo Kwang-seok (9 December 2015). "김정은 이모부 "고영희
본명은 고용희…권력 비정함 때문에 망명"". KBS News
(in Korean). Seoul. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
^ Kim Jong-hyeon (2 August 2012). "北 김정은 어머니 고영희
Yonhap (in Korean). Tokyo. Retrieved 10
^ a b c d e f Ko Young-ki (26 June 2012). "Happy Birthday, Koh Young
Hee". Daily NK. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
^ Lintner, Bertil (2005) Great leader, dear leader: demystifying North
Korea under the Kim Clan Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai, Thailand, page
107, ISBN 974-9575-69-5
^ French, Paul (2007) North Korea: the paranoid peninsula — a
modern history (2nd edition) Zed Books, London, page 267,
^ Yang Jung-a (30 June 2012). "North Korea: The Glorification Nation".
Daily NK. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
^ Kokita, Kiyohito (1 December 2010). "
Osaka black mark in Kim's
life?". Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved 3 December 2010. ; see Kokita
Kiyohito, Tessa Morris-Suzuki and Mark Selden, Ko Tae Mun, Ko Chung
Hee, and the
Osaka Family Origins of North Korean Successor Kim Jong
Un, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 1 No 2, 3 January 2011.
^ Ko Dong-hwan (24 December 2013). "NK leader's secret 'pro-Japanese'
family history revealed". The Korea Times. Seoul. Archived from the
original on 11 December 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
^ Mark Willacy, Kim Jong-un's grandfather 'was Japanese collaborator',
ABC News 11 May 2012
^ Takahashi, Kosuke (14 July 2012). "Young general comes out as
mother's boy". Asia Times. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
^ a b c Ko Young-ki (31 May 2011). "Ko Young Hee Image Uncovered".
Daily NK. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
^ "Kim Jong-un's aunt fled to U.S.; She and husband sought asylum in
1998, had cosmetic surgery". JoongAng Ilbo. 5 November 2013. Retrieved
9 November 2013.
^ Lee Young-jong; Kim Hee-jin (8 August 2012). "Kim Jong-un's sister
is having a ball". Korea JoongAng Daily. Archived from the original on
11 August 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
^ "Kim Yo Jong". North Korea Leadership Watch. 11 July 2012. Retrieved
8 August 2012.
^ Hart, Joyce (2007) Kim Jong II: Leader of North Korea Rosen
Publishing Group, New York, page 60, ISBN 978-1-4042-1901-4
^ Brooke, James (27 August 2004). "A Mystery About a Mistress in North
Korea". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
Ko Yong-hui Grave". Radio Free Asia. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 16
^ Curtis Melvin (8 April 2016). "Kim Jong-un's mother's grave (Ko
Yong-hui)". NK Economy Watch. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
^ a b Cho Jong-ik (30 July 2012). ""Great Mother" revealed to World".
Daily NK. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
Andrei Lankov (3 December 2011). "North Korea's new class system".
Asia Times. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
BBC News obituary
Kim dynasty of North Korea
Kim Il-sung (1912–1994)
Kim Jong-il (1941–2011)
Kim Jong-un (1984–)
Kim Hyong-jik (Kim Il-sung's father)
Kang Pan-sok (Kim Il-sung's mother)
Kim Jong-suk (Kim Il-sung's first wife, Jong-il's mother)
Kim Yong-ju (Kim Il-sung's brother)
Kim Song-ae (Kim Il-sung's second wife)
Hong Il-chon (Kim Jong-il's first wife, divorced)
Song Hye-rim (Kim Jong-il's first mistress)
Kim Man-il (Kim Jong-il's brother)
Jang Song-thaek (Kim Jong-il's brother-in-law)
Kim Kyong-hui (Kim Jong-il's sister)
Kim Young-sook (Kim Jong-il's wife)
Ko Yong-hui (Kim Jong-il's second mistress, Jong-un's mother)
Kim Pyong-il (Kim Jong-il's half-brother)
Kim Ok (Kim Jong-il's third mistress)
Kim Yo-jong (Kim Jong-un's sister)
Kim Jong-chul (Kim Jong-un's brother)
Kim Sul-song (Kim Jong-un's half-sister)
Kim Jong-nam (Kim Jong-un's half-brother)
Ri Sol-ju (Kim Jong-un's wife)
Kim Ju-ae (Kim Jong-un's daughter)
Kim Han-sol (K