North Korea marks anniversary without Kim Jong Un's aunt

North Korea marks anniversary without Kim Jong Un's aunt
High-ranking officials applaud as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leaves a mass indoor memorial rally in Pyongyang

SEOUL - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's aunt was absent from a state memorial ceremony on Tuesday raising questions about her influence days after her husband, also a top state official, was executed.

The purging and execution of Jang Song Thaek on Friday was the biggest upheaval in years in North Korea, which has conducted three nuclear tests and this year raised the possibility of nuclear war with South Korea and the United States.

Jang was married to Kim Kyong Hui, a daughter of state founder Kim Il Sung and sister of the country's second leader, Kim Jong Il. She is an aunt of current leader Kim Jong Un, the third Kim to rule.

North Korea's KCNA news agency said last week Jang had been executed for trying to seize power and for driving the economy "into an uncontrollable catastrophe".

On Tuesday, his wife did not appear at a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the death of her brother, North Korea's second leader, Kim Jong Il.

Together, she and Jang had been considered the "Pyongyang power couple", the real force behind the North Korean leadership, before Jang was labelled a traitor and executed.

Kim Kyong Hui usually features prominently at important North Korean events alongside her nephew, the young new leader, Kim Jong Un, and other members of the North Korean elite.

North Korean state media did not say why she was absent from the commemoration at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, in the capital, Pyongyang.

Political leaders, including Kim Jong Un and his wife, paid respects to the late Kim Jong Il, whose embalmed body lies in a glass coffin in the palace.

Kim Kyong Hui has been absent from such events in the past, stoking speculation that she was ill, only to reappear later.

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