Hyon Song-wol at the National Theatre on February 11, 2018 in Seoul, South Korea
|Born||1977 (age 41–42)|
|Occupation(s)||Singer and politician|
|Labels||Moranbong Band, Samjiyon Orchestra, Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble|
|Revised Romanization||Hyeon Song-wol|
Hyon is currently the leader of the Moranbong Band and of the Samjiyon Orchestra. She was formerly the vocalist for the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble, a pop group which found fame in North Korea in the early 2000s. 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". She has been a member in the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea since 2017.
Hyon was vocalist of the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble. Her biggest hit was the song "Excellent Horse-Like Lady" (Korean: 준마처녀; Hanja: 駿馬處女; RR: Junma Cheo'nyeo; MR: Chunma Ch'ŏnyŏ), a 2005 song extolling the virtues of a Stakhanovite textile factory worker. The accompanying music video stars Hyon in the role of "the heroine, dashing around a sparkling factory with a beatific smile, distributing bobbins and collecting swatches of cloth at top speed." 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!
Hyon's other best known songs include, "Footsteps of Soldiers", "I Love Pyongyang", "She is a Discharged Soldier" and "We are Troops of the Party".
Marriage and rumors of involvement with Kim Jong-un
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. 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 public 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".
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.
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, both of whom had allegedly made illegal pornographic videos. 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."
Pyongyang's state news agency KCNA denied claims that the singer was executed, and a Japanese news magazine reported that she was seen subsequently.
Hyon is the leader of the Moranbong Band and of the Samjiyon Orchestra. In December 2015, Hyon travelled to Beijing to perform with the Moranbong Band in a series of private concerts. In 2017 she was appointed to the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea. In 2018 she took part in talks with South Korea in preparation for North Korea's participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. During the Games, she organised concerts by North Korean performers in the South.
- Choi, Kyung-woon (31 January 2018). "NIS Pins Down Age of N.Korean Bandleader". NK Chosun. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
- Popham, Peter (11 July 2012). "Is Kim Jong-un's mystery woman a long-lost love?". The Independent. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
- "Is Kim Jong Un's Mystery Woman The 'Excellent Horse-Like Lady'?". NPR. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
- Lee, Young-jong (9 July 2012). "Is Hyon the new first lady of NK?". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- "Kim Jong-un's Ex-Girlfriend 'Shot by Firing Squad'". The Chosun Ilbo. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
- "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.
- "Kim Jong Un's Ex-Lover Hyon Song-Wol 'Executed By North Korean Firing Squad After Making Sex Tape'". Huffingtonpost.co.uk. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- 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 17 May 2014.
- "Executed singer alive and well, Pyongyang TV shows — The West Australian". Au.news.yahoo.com. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- "North Korean singer "executed by firing squad" shows up alive and well in Pyongyang | NK News — North Korea News". NK News. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- Terrence McCoy (19 May 2014). "Another good Kim Jong Un story dies as 'executed' girlfriend lives". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
- Qin, Amy (8 February 2018). "North Korean Orchestra Gives an Emotional Concert in the South". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
- "N. Korean band leader appears in China after execution rumors". 11 December 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
- "Choe Ryong-hae elected to N.K. ruling party's central military commission". Yonhap. 8 October 2017.
- "Leader of all-female N.K. band appears as delegate to inter-Korean talks". Yonhap News. 15 January 2018.
- "Kim Jong-un meets North Korean orchestra that performed at Winter Olympics". EFE. 13 February 2018.
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