Kim Yong-ju is the youngest of the late Kim Il-sung’s two brothers
and an uncle of Kim Jong-il.
In the organizational bureau of the Korean Workers’ Party’s Central
Committee, he served as director, section leader and deputy chief
before moving up to chief in 1960. In 1966, the committee named
him a cadre candidate and secretary of its political bureau. He
was promoted to political cadre in 1969 as he rose to the No. 2
position in the party, and helped political heavyweight Kim Yong-nam
purge opponents in 1967. For a time, Kim Yong-ju was considered
a prospective heir to his older brother Il-sung as supreme leader,
but poor health pushed him out of the picture.
Though usually absent from official events, he was co-chairman of
an inter-Korean committee in the 1972 talks between the two Koreas.
Two years later, he was demoted to vice premier of the State Administration
Council for a year. Afterwards, he disappeared from politics for
18 years before resurfacing in the completion ceremony of a monument
commemorating Korea’s 1945 liberation from Japanese rule.
In the 1993 general assembly of the party’s Central Committee,
he returned as cadre and political councilor. In the past, his public
appearances usually led to rumors of illness or a power struggle,
but with age, he earned respect as a senior statesman. In 2005,
Kim missed the celebration marking the party’s 60th anniversary,
probably due to poor health.