North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un’s affair with married pop singer
NORTH Korea’s recently installed supreme leader Kim Jong-un is having an affair with a previously married singer who has been pictured with the North Korea leader at several recent events, according to reports.
South Korean intelligence sources named the attractive, short-haired woman as Hyon Song-wol, who used to front the Bochonbo Electronic Music Band and was hugely popular among the North Korean masses.
Responsible for a string of hits that included Footsteps of Soldiers, I Love Pyongyang, She is a Discharged Soldier and We are Troops of the Party, her popularity reportedly peaked in 2005 with the song Excellent Horse-Like Lady.
Hyon subsequently disappeared from public view at the time that Mr Kim emerged as the heir-apparent to his father, Kim Jong-il.
There are reports that 28-year-old Kim Jong-un was ordered to break off his relationship with Hyon by his father and that she later married an officer in the North Korean army with whom she has a baby.
She made a return to the limelight in early March when, heavily pregnant, she performed at an event in Pyongyang to mark International Women's Day, which was attended by Mr Kim.
"The two have known each other since they were in their teens and rumours about the two having an affair have been circulating among Pyongyang's top elite," a South Korean intelligence official told the JoongAng Daily in Seoul.
North Korean media have so far failed to name the woman accompanying their leader to a series of high-profile entertainment events.
Intelligence agencies believe the two first became romantically involved about 10 years ago, after Mr Kim returned home from studying at an elite private academy in the Swiss city of Berne.
Ordered to end the relationship by his father, Mr Kim has apparently rekindled the friendship since December. There has been speculation that Mr Kim has entrusted Hyon with the task of managing the state-run art troupe in recent months.
There have been no reports on the whereabouts of Hyon's husband, or whether they are even still married, or her young baby.
Previous reports stated that the woman was probably Kim Yeo-jong, the younger sister of Mr Kim, and that she was being paraded in front of the North Korean media as an introduction as a close confidante of the young leader.
Analysts said Mr Kim could be grooming his sister for a more influential role in the highest echelons of the party and the government and that the North Korean media would identify her – as well as her official role and title – in the coming weeks.
But Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo's Waseda University and author of a number of books on the North Korean leadership, said he believes the woman to be Mr Kim's wife and that she is waiting to be officially introduced to the North Korean people.
"It is highly possible that this is his wife and that Kim is trying to show a new style of leadership, of a husband and wife, in North Korea," Professor Shigemura said.
He added that Mr Kim has not been seen in public much in the last couple of weeks – in contrast to his high public profile in the first half of the year as the state media attempted to play up his credentials as leader of the nation.
Professor Shigemura suggested that his absence could be explained by frantic behind-the-scenes discussions on the introduction of his partner to the masses.