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Speedy rise to power of Kim Jong Un's ex-girlfriend

Posted October. 10, 2017 08:10,   

Updated October. 10, 2017 09:30


Hyon Song Wol, the leader of the Moranbong Band, popularly known as the North Korean version of a girl band, has been selected as an alternate member of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party at the Second Plenum of the party’s 7th Central Committee. Given that Hyon Song Wol is not a descent from the Baekdu bloodline, her speedy promotion comes a huge surprise, which far outweighs that of Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has been appointed as an alternate member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party. The whole slate of appointments and promotions demonstrate Kim Jong Un’s resolve, taking into the fact that there is no precedent in North Korea for selecting a person with a singing background to key positions of the Workers’ Party, and that Hyon Song Wol is only in her late thirties to early forties.

In July 2012, the Moranbong Band gave the world a refreshing jolt, with its beautiful female members playing pop music and dancing to the songs in a revealing outfit. People took the band as a cultural emblem of the Kim Jong Un leadership, and anticipated the possible reform of the country under its young leader who experienced the outside world by studying abroad. However, it was soon revealed that the Moranbong Band, while outwardly Westernized, was no more than the propaganda apparatus of the ruling Workers’ Party. In fact, the nature of the band was well manifested in December 2015, when Hyon Song Wol returned to North Korea after refusing to yield to the pressure of the Chinese authority to stop projecting the scene of long-range missiles being launched on a large background screen on stage. Back then, Hyon said, “Any one part of our performance cannot be changed, since our leader has seen and approved it himself.”

Former vocalist of the Bocheonbo Electronic Music Band and the Unhasu Orchestra, Hyon Song Wol was rumored to be a former lover of Kim Jong Un, and the relationship of the two was reported to have gone estranged as Kim Jong Un married to Ri Sol Ju. Hyon was even reported to have played a central role in the execution of the nine members of the Unhasu Orchestra, or was reported to have been executed during a firing squad in August 2013 for slandering Ri.

“If Hyon was a former lover of Kim Jong Un, she would not have been appointed to the key position of the party, said Professor Kim Geun-shik at Gyeongnam University. The rumor that Hyon is an ex-girlfriend of Kim is highly likely to be a rumor.” However, some critics argue that the recent promotion demonstrates that Kim has gained enough confidence to leave his ex-girlfriend aside after a series of purges of a number of high-ranking officials including Jang Song Thaek and Hyon Yong Chol, which were undertaken as part of a generation change. Either way, it is clear that the former Moranbong leader is doing well at the moment in her gamble of captivating Kim Jong Un.