Hyon Song-wol

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Hyon Song-wol
Native name 현송월
Born 1983 (age 31–32)
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Nationality North Korean
Occupation Singer
Employer Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble
Known for "Excellent Horse-Like Lady" (Chosŏn'gŭl: 준마처녀; hancha: 駿馬處女; MR: Chunma Ch'eonyeo)
Notable work "Footsteps of Soldiers", "I Love Pyongyang", "She is a Discharged Soldier" and "We are Troops of the Party".[1]

Hyon Song-wol (Chosŏn'gŭl: 현송월; hancha: 玄松月; MR: Hyŏn Song-wŏl) is a North Korean singer, formerly the vocalist for the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble, a pop group which found fame in North Korea in the early 2000s.[2] Her best known songs include "Excellent Horse-Like Lady", "Footsteps of Soldiers", "I Love Pyongyang", "She is a Discharged Soldier" and "We are Troops of the Party".[1]

Hyon Song-wol came to world attention when, on 29 August 2013, The Chosun Ilbo reported that she was executed by firing squad, together with members of the Unhasu Orchestra and the Wangjaesan Light Music Band, on the orders of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.[3]

Pyongyang's state news agency KCNA denied claims that the singer was executed, and a Japanese news magazine reported that she was seen subsequently.[4] On May 16, 2014, Hyon appeared on North Korean television participating in the National Convention of Artists, disproving the rumors.[5][6]


Hyon's biggest hit was the song "Excellent Horse-Like 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]

Marriage and rumors of involvement with Kim Jong-un[edit]

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".[7]

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 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.[7]

Execution rumors[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.[8][3] According to a source quoted by the newspaper, "They were executed with machine guns while the key members of the Unhasu Orchestra, the Wangjaesan Light Music Band and the Moranbong Band as well as the families of the victims looked on."[3][9] A video of the singer performing a dance was uploaded to a Chinese video website called Youku, which was allegedly the video in question.[10][11]

The reported reasons for the executions were questioned by Professor Toshimitsu Shigemura of Tokyo's Waseda University, who commented, "if these people had only made pornographic videos, then it is simply not believable that their punishment was execution." He suggested 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."[12]

Other experts such as Steven Herman, Voice of America correspondent, and Chad O'Carroll, of NK News, argued against the authenticity of the Chosun Ilbo report. O'Carroll said "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 was also skeptical of the reports, saying "...mainstream media in South Korea has repeatedly been wrong on these sensationalistic stories originating from the North." While he did not totally dismiss the possibility of The Chosun Ilbo report's honesty, Steven Herman added, "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."[13]

Pyongyang's state news agency KCNA denied claims that the singer was executed, and a Japanese news magazine reported that she was seen subsequently.[4]

On 16 May 2014, Hyon appeared on North Korean television participating in the National Convention of Artists, disproving the rumors.[8][5][6][14]

See also[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 c "Kim Jong-un's Ex-Girlfriend 'Shot by Firing Squad'". The Chosun Ilbo. August 29, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Tania Branigan in Beijing and Justin McCurry in Tokyo. "North Korea criticises 'reptile media' for saying Kim Jong-un ordered executions | World news". theguardian.com. Retrieved 2014-05-17. 
  5. ^ a b May 17, 2014, 11:34 am. "Executed singer alive and well, Pyongyang TV shows - The West Australian". Au.news.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2014-05-17. 
  6. ^ a b "North Korean singer "executed by firing squad" shows up alive and well in Pyongyang | NK News - North Korea News". NK News. Retrieved 2014-05-17. 
  7. ^ a b Lee, Young-jong (9 July 2012). "Is Hyon the new first lady of NK?". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 12 July 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "North Korean singer rumoured to have been executed appears on TV". Agence France-Presse via The Guardian website. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  9. ^ "Kim Jong Un's Ex-Lover Hyon Song-Wol 'Executed By North Korean Firing Squad After Making Sex Tape'". Huffingtonpost.co.uk. 2013-08-29. Retrieved 2014-05-17. 
  10. ^ "Hyon Song-Wol 'Pornographic' Video - Kim Jong-Un Ex-Girlfriend". Business Insider. 2013-09-05. Retrieved 2014-05-17. 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ Ryall, Julian (August 29, 2013). "Kim Jong-un's ex-lover 'executed by firing squad'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Terrence McCoy (2014-05-19). "Another good Kim Jong Un story dies as ‘executed’ girlfriend lives". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-06-01.