Kim Jong Un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his visit to Samjiyon county in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency, Nov. 28, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has sent a senior official from the country’s state security ministry — also considered to be secret police or spy agency — to keep a watch on his uncle Kim Pyong Il in the Czech Republic, according to a report in a South Korean newspaper Monday. Kim Pyong Il serves as the reclusive nation’s ambassador to the Czech Republic.

Kim Pyong Il is a half-brother of late North Korean leader and Kim Jong Un’s father Kim Jong Il. He is popular in the country due to his reported resemblance to his father Kim Il Sung.

“The presence of Kim Pyong Il, who resembles Kim Il Sung, must be a threat to Kim Jong Un, who is trying to win people’s hearts by imitating his grandfather,” an unidentified researcher at a South Korean think tank told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper. “It seems the regime has sent a senior officer from the State Security Department to Prague to watch him.”

According to the report, Kim moved his uncle from Poland in early 2015 — where he was the North’s ambassador — to the Czech Republic after he was set to become dean of the diplomatic corps in Warsaw in 2014. Kim Pyong Il reportedly had a network of diplomatic connections in Poland after being North Korea’s envoy there for 16 years.

The 62-year-old reportedly had a power struggle with his half-brother Kim Jong Il. Following this, he was sent to semi-exile and reportedly spent 38 years in several countries, including Hungary and Finland.

Last November, Hong Kong-based magazine Yazhou Zhoukan reported North Koreans wanted Kim Pyong Il to replace the current leader. He is considered to hold neither pro-U.S. nor pro-China views, which the report noted would be helpful for him in dealing with both the nations.

“The country’s high-ranking officials are eyeing Kim Pyong Il… because they are threatened by the leader’s [Kim Jong Un] executions of high-profile officers,” according to the report, cited by South Korean media.

However, it is unlikely that North Koreans are aware of him anymore, a North Korean defector said at the time.

“I heard that Kim Pyong Il resembled Kim Il Sung a lot — that’s why Kim Jong Il was so jealous of him,” the defector told the Korea Times in Seoul. “But many North Koreans are not aware of his existence because of the country’s efforts to hold back information.”

In December 2013, Jang Song Thaek, uncle of Kim Jong Un, was executed after he was reported to have been found guilty of treason. At the time, Pyongyang accused him of an attempted coup and held him responsible for the country’s failed currency reform.