Kim Jong Un Family Mystery Causes Local Media Frenzy

An ancestral burial ground in South Korea has been traced to the North Korean leader's family, with his relatives said to still be living nearby.

SEOUL – Several tombs belonging to the ancestors of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un have been found in Bonggae-dong, Jeju Island, a tropical island considered "the Hawaii of South Korea," South Korea's largest local daily, Chosun Ilbo, was the first to report Tuesday (Jan. 28). Descendants of the same clan are said to still be living on the island. 

The revelation sparked a media frenzy here late Tuesday, as the story led local news broadcasts on networks YTN, SBS, KBS, Kyunghyang Shinmun, and MBN, and topped the headlines on nearly all major news sites.

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Ko Kyeong Taek (1913-1999), Kim's great-grandfather on his mother's side, is confirmed to have been born on Jeju Island in 1913 before moving to Japan in 1929. There have been rumors that Kim's mother, Ko Yong Hui (also spelled Ko Young-hee,1952-2004) came from a Jeju family, but this is the first time a grave has actually been located.

The family burial site, an open field overlooking the ocean, features 14 graves, including those of Ko and Ko’s father (Kim’s maternal great-grandfather) Ko Yong Taek, among other relatives. The grave belonging to Ko Kyeong Taek is believed to be a cenotaph (an empty tomb honoring a person whose remains are elsewhere), says an 83-year-old who claims to be a member of the Ko family.

“Because Ko Kyeong Taek went to North Korea and passed away there, the grave is probably a cenotaph," the relative, surnamed Ko, was quoted as telling Chosun Ilbo.

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The family history was also confirmed through the genealogy of the Ko family, which includes a man named Ko Kyeong Taek born on Aug. 14, 1918. It corresponds to the information held by South Korea's National Intelligence Service about Kim's ancestors.

Several other descendants of the Ko family still live on Jeju Island.