Kim Jong-un on the hunt for new 'pleasure troupe' of women
Published 02/04/2015 | 10:43
Kim Jong-un raises yet more eyebrows as he looks to resurrect a traditional source of entertainment for North Korean leaders.
Having disbanded the "pleasure troupe" of women that were hand-picked for his father Kim Jong-il, the dictator has decided now is the time for a rebirth.
According to South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper, Kim Jong-un is now ready to accept a new group of loyal women - something he wasn't prepared for after his father's death in December 2011.
"After he came to power, Mr Kim trusted no-one and ordered thorough investigations into every official in the regime, from the highest to the lowest", Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo's Waseda University and an authority on North Korean affairs, told The Telegraph.
In addition, the three-year official mourning period after the death of Kim Jong-il has now officially ended.
"The women who entertained his father knew many secrets and they have now been ordered to promise not to reveal any information before being sent back to their home towns", Prof Shigemura said.
The old "pleasure" women were given salaries of $4,000 - in conjunction with home appliances.
In contrast, maids and cleaners at Kim Jong-il's palaces only received about half that amount, reports Chosun Ilbo.
The new entertainment group will "only have loyalty to" Kim, Prof Shigemura added.
"Pleasure troupes", made up of pretty females as young as 13 or 14, were initially introduced by the founder of North Korea, Kim Il-sung.
Officials acting as 'recruiters' would trawl homes across the countryside taking away young women to serve as maids, dancers or singers - with the prettiest being employed as concubines for the elite.
Even if they did have suspicions over what was really happening to their daughters, parents would generally have no say in the matter.
Many of these women "retired" in their 20s and were married off to military officers looking for brides.
"This has been going on under three generations of the Kim family ruling North Korea and it has become a tradition that is also a demonstration of the leader's power over the people and his sexual power," Prof. Shigemura said.
Mr Kim married Ri Sol-ju, a former singer with the Unhasu Orchestra, in 2013 and the couple has a daughter.