5 key people to watch in North Korea

3. Kim Kyong-hui

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    Kim Kyong-hui (2nd from l.) accompanied her brother, Kim Jong-il (3rd from l.) on public inspection June 9, 2009 in Seoul, South Korea.
    Yonhap News/YNA/Newscom
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Kim Kyong-hui, Kim Jong-il’s younger sister, married to Kim's unofficial No. 2, Jang Song-thaek, is also a strong contender for power in her own right. Jang and Kim Kyong-hui reportedly met at university in North Korea and studied together in Moscow. In charge of light industry for the party, she’s been photographed with Kim Jong-il, as well as her husband, on frequent visits to industrial cities and military bases over the past year or two.

A member of the central committee of the party, she has a close relationship with Kim Jong-il and is assumed to have been instrumental in her husband’s renaissance as an important figure. It’s possible that Jang and his wife might wind up in senior party posts, but analysts wonder if military leaders might object to power falling into the hands of people who have never had significant military experience.

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