Hyon Song-wol

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Hyon Song-wol
Native name현송월
Born1983
North Korea
Died20 August 2013 (?)
Sunan-guyok Pyongyang, North Korea
Cause of death
Execution by firing squad (?)
NationalityNorth Korean
OccupationSinger
EmployerPochonbo Electronic Ensemble
Known for"Excellent Horse-Like Lady" (Chosŏn'gŭl: 준마처녀; hancha: 駿馬處女; MR: Chunma Ch'eonyeo)
Notable work(s)"Footsteps of Soldiers", "I Love Pyongyang", "She is a Discharged Soldier" and "We are Troops of the Party".[1]
Criminal charge
Pornography (?)
Criminal penalty
Execution (?)
Criminal status
Deceased (?)
 
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Hyon Song-wol
Native name현송월
Born1983
North Korea
Died20 August 2013 (?)
Sunan-guyok Pyongyang, North Korea
Cause of death
Execution by firing squad (?)
NationalityNorth Korean
OccupationSinger
EmployerPochonbo Electronic Ensemble
Known for"Excellent Horse-Like Lady" (Chosŏn'gŭl: 준마처녀; hancha: 駿馬處女; MR: Chunma Ch'eonyeo)
Notable work(s)"Footsteps of Soldiers", "I Love Pyongyang", "She is a Discharged Soldier" and "We are Troops of the Party".[1]
Criminal charge
Pornography (?)
Criminal penalty
Execution (?)
Criminal status
Deceased (?)

Hyon Song-wol (Chosŏn'gŭl: 현송월; hancha: 玄松月; MR: Hyŏn Song-wŏl; reportedly executed between August 20 and August 29, 2013) was a North Korean pop singer who was formerly the vocalist for the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble, a pop group which became well known in North Korea in the early 2000s.[2] Her better-known songs include the numbers "Footsteps of Soldiers", "I Love Pyongyang", "She is a Discharged Soldier" and "We are Troops of the Party".[1] On 29 August 2013, The Chosun Ilbo claimed that key members of the Moranbong Band were made to watch the execution by firing squad of Hyon Song-wol and members of the Unhasu Orchestra and Wangjaesan Light Music Band, on the orders of Kim Jong-un.[3] However, some experts have questioned the allegations, and are skeptical of the executions ever taking place.[4]

Career[edit]

Her biggest hit was the song "Excellent Horse-Loving Lady" (Chosŏn'gŭl: 준마처녀; hancha: 駿馬處女; MR: Chunma Ch'eonyeo) a 2005 song extolling the virtues of a Stakhanovite textile factory worker. The accompanying music video stars Hyon in the role of the girl in the saddle of a steed, "dashing around a sparkling factory with a beatific smile, distributing bobbins and collecting swatches of cloth at top speed."[2] The lyrics include:

Our factory comrades say in jest,
Why, they tell me I am a virgin on a stallion,
After a full day's work I still have energy left...
They say I am a virgin on a stallion,
Mounting a stallion my Dear Leader gave me.
All my life I will live to uphold his name![1]

Hyon disappeared from public view in 2006 when, according to reports in the Japanese media, she married a North Korean army officer with whom she had a child.[1] She was reported to have known Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, since they were both teenagers. South Korean government sources told the media that Hyon and Kim Jong-un had been romantically involved in the early 2000s after he returned to North Korea from his studies at a private school in Switzerland. His father reportedly disapproved of the relationship and the younger Kim and Hyon broke it off.

Following Kim Jong-il's death in December 2011, Kim Jong-un was thought to have resumed the relationship. According to South Korean intelligence sources, "rumors about the two having an affair have been circulating among Pyongyang’s top elite."[5]

In March 2012, Hyon made her first public appearance in six years when she performed, while heavily pregnant, in an event in Pyongyang to mark International Women’s Day. Fresh interest in Hyon was kindled in July 2012 when she was misidentified in footage taken by the North Korean state television station showing a dark-haired woman sitting next to Kim Jong-un at a musical performance. It was thought at first that she might have been a previously undisclosed wife of Kim or his younger sister, but South Korean intelligence officials identified her as Hyon. Some suggested that she may have been given the job of running the state art troupe. However, North Korean television announced that the woman was in fact Kim Jong-un's wife, Ri Sol-ju, and not Hyon.[5]

Alleged execution and doubts[edit]

On 29 August 2013, The Chosun Ilbo reported that Hyon had been executed by firing squad on the orders of Kim Jong-un along with eleven other performers, including violinist Mun Kyong-jin, who had allegedly made illegal pornographic videos.[6] According to a source quoted by the newspaper, "They were executed with machine guns while the key members of the Unhasu Orchestra, Wangjaesan Light Music Band and Moranbong Band as well as the families of the victims looked on."[3][7]

The reported reasons for the executions have been questioned by Professor Toshimitsu Shigemura of Tokyo's Waseda University, an authority on North Korean affairs, who comments, "if these people had only made pornographic videos, then it is simply not believable that their punishment was execution." He suggests that they were killed for political reasons, perhaps related to factional conflicts in the North Korean elite, or simply as a result of a grudge: "as Kim's wife (Ri Sol-ju) once belonged to the same group, it is possible that these executions are more about Kim's wife."[8]

Other experts such as Steven Hermen, former Voice of America correspondent, and Chad O'Carroll, of NK News, argue against the authenticity of the Chosun Ilbo report. O'Carroll states "These rumors start with unnamed and unverified sources in the South Korean media and, for the most part, they're not true (and impossible to prove)." Hermen is also skeptical of the reports, saying "...mainstream media in South Korea has repeatedly been wrong on these sensationalistic stories originating from the North." As an example of the misleading and often unfounded reports that occasionally appear in South Korean media about the north, Bruce Cumings, a historian of Korea at the University of Chicago, recalled in 1986 South Korean intelligence claiming that Kim Il-Sung, North Korea's first dictator, was assassinated by his son Kim Jong-il. However, Kim died years later of a fatal heart attack in 1994. While he does not totally dismiss the possibility of The Chosun Ilbo report's honesty, Steven Hermen adds "There will be no way to confirm these sort of stories until after the DPRK collapses, or we have first-hand testimony with credible evidence from reliable defectors." [4]

Pyongyang's state news agency KCNA denies claims that the singer was executed. According to the informants of a Japanese news magazine, an execution involving celebrities did take place, but she was not amongst those and has since been seen.[9] A video of the singer performing a dance was uploaded to a Chinese video website called Youku, which is allegedly the video in question.[10] According to the Japanese source, the video and executions was most likely related to an unflattering documentary of Kim Jong-un, which may well have been confiscated under the guise of being pornographic.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Is Kim Jong Un's Mystery Woman The 'Excellent Horse-Like Lady'?". NPR. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Popham, Peter (11 July 2012). "Is Kim Jong-un's mystery woman a long-lost love?". The Independent. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Kim Jong-un's Ex-Girlfriend 'Shot by Firing Squad'". The Chosun Ilbo. August 29, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b http://www.businessinsider.com/did-kim-jong-un-execute-his-ex-girlfriend-2013-8#ixzz2e8YQ937U Taylor, Adam. "Why You Shouldn't Necessarily Trust Those Reports Of Kim Jong-un Executing His Ex-Girlfriend." Business Insider. N.p., 29 Aug. 2013. Web. 26 Sept. 2013.
  5. ^ a b Lee, Young-jong (9 July 2012). "Is Hyon the new first lady of NK?". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 12 July 2012. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/08/29/kim-jong-uns-ex-lover-hyon-song-wol-executed-north-korean-firing-squad-sex-tape_n_3835131.html?utm_hp_ref=uk
  8. ^ Ryall, Julian (August 29, 2013). "Kim Jong-un's ex-lover 'executed by firing squad'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  9. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/23/north-korea-reptile-media-kim-jongun
  10. ^ http://www.businessinsider.com/hyon-song-wol-pornographic-video-kim-jong-un-ex-girlfriend-2013-9