N. Korean leader's aunt defected to US in 1998: Report

N. Korean leader's aunt defected to US in 1998: Report

SEOUL - North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's aunt fled to the United States while looking after her nephew during his time at a Swiss boarding school in the 1990s, a report said Tuesday.

Ko Yong-Suk, who effectively vanished in 1998, had in fact been granted US political asylum, South Korea's JoongAng Daily said, citing a former senior intelligence official and a South Korean diplomat based in Berne at the time.

The newspaper said Ko, who would now be 56, and her husband had cosmetic surgery to conceal their identities and remain under the protection of the US authorities.

Kim Jong-Un attended an international school in Berne from 1996-2001 and Ko had been sent to care for him during his studies there.

Ko and her husband reportedly made their initial bid for asylum through the US embassy.

"The United States spirited away the couple without even informing us," the unidentified intelligence official said.

They were first taken to a US military base in Frankfurt and then flown to the United States.

Ko is the younger sister of Kim's mother Ko Yong-hui who died from breast cancer in 2004 aged 51.

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