She Didn't Die: Kim Jong-un's Ex-Girlfriend Appears on TV

Image: She Didn't Die: Kim Jong-un's Ex-Girlfriend Appears on TV Kim Jong-un with wife Ri Sol-ju

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 07:12 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The reputed ex-girlfriend of North Korea's mercurial dictator Kim Jong-un, widely reported to have been executed, is alive and well and singing the praises of the "Dear Marshal," The New York Times  reported.

Hyon Song-wol, a popular girl band singer, appeared on state-controlled television wearing a military uniform to address the National Meeting of Artists in Pyongyang. She thanked Kim Jong-un, saying, "Today's Moranbong Band is possible only because of the heavenly trust and warm care of the Dear Marshal."

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South Korean and Japanese media reports claimed she'd been executed by machine gun for making and selling pornographic videos of herself. Other rumors claimed the dictator's wife, Ri Sol-ju, did something similar during her career as a singer. At the time, North Korea termed the reports "an unpardonable hideous provocation hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership."

South Korean intelligence does not always get events in North Korea wrong. It correctly forecast that the leader's uncle, Jang Song-thaek, had been purged based on his disappearance from official photographs. The North Korean media subsequently confirmed his trial and execution. A Chinese blogger's tale that Jang was ripped apart by dogs subsequently went viral. Other sites claimed he met death by flamethrower.

Bill Richardson, a former governor of New Mexico who has traveled to North Korea a few times, cautioned that, "The rumor mill about North Korea is out of control." The outside world knows little about the North Korean leader "his true intentions and governing style" said Richardson.

Recent reports that the North may be planning a nuclear test are based on satellite imagery of preparations at a testing site. Reliable data about what's happening in governing circles, however, is much harder to come by.

Lee Won-sup, a South Korean media professor, said, "It takes time before a report on North Korea is proven right or wrong, and even if a story turns out to be wrong, there is little disadvantage for reporting it."

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