Song Hye-rim

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Song Hye-rim
Song Hye-rim portrait.jpg
Native name
Born(1937-01-24)24 January 1937
Died18 May 2002(2002-05-18) (aged 65)
Partner(s)Kim Jong-il (1968–2002; her death)
ChildrenKim Jong-nam
Song Hye-rim
Revised RomanizationSeong Hye-rim
McCune–ReischauerSŏng Hyerim

Song Hye-rim (Chosŏn'gŭl: 성혜림; 24 January 1937 – 18 May 2002)[1] was a North Korean actress, best known for being the one-time favored mistress of Kim Jong-il.

Early life and education[edit]

Song was born in Changnyeong when Korea was under Imperial Japanese rule. She entered Pyongyang Movie College in 1955, but left the following year to give birth to a daughter. She later re-enrolled and graduated, having her film debut in 1960. She became a popular actress in the 1960s, appearing in movies including Onjŏngryŏng (Chosŏn'gŭl: 온정령) and Baek Il-hong (Chosŏn'gŭl: 백일홍).

Most accounts of Song are drawn from the memoirs of her sister, Song Hye-rang. Her former friend Kim Young-soon published her memoir I Am Song Hye-rim's friend, and revealed that she and her family were sent to a concentration camp for ten years after she found out Hye-rim's secret (namely, that she was Kim Jong-il's mistress, a fact that was hidden at the time even from Kim Il-sung), which resulted in the death of her children and parents and her husband being taken away and never seen again before she managed to defect to South Korea in 2003.[2][3][4][5]

Personal life[edit]

Song began dating Kim Jong-il in 1968, after divorcing her first husband; she is believed to have been his first mistress. In 1971, she gave birth to Kim Jong-nam, who at one time was believed to be favoured to succeed Kim Jong-il. The birth of her son is said to have been kept secret from Kim Il-sung until 1975.[6]

Defection and death[edit]

Starting in the early 1980s, Song travelled to Moscow frequently for medical care. In 1996 Song was reported to have defected to the West, but intelligence officials in South Korea denied the story. She is reported to have died on 18 May 2002.[1][7] Some reports say she died in Moscow.[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 北 김정남 생모 '성혜림의 묘'를 찾아
  2. ^ "North Korean defector says Kim Jong Il stole her life". Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ "A N.Korean life shattered by Kim Jong-il's secret". Reuters. 3 February 2010.
  4. ^ AFD
  5. ^ "North Korean Defector Reveals The Horrifying Conditions Inside Secretive State's Concentration Camps". The Huffington Post. 12 October 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  6. ^ Lee (2005), par. 6
  7. ^ Empas (n.d.)
  8. ^ Lee (2005), sect. 4 par. 1
  9. ^ Michael Rank (18 February 2012). "North Korean secrets lie six feet under". Asia Times Online.


External links[edit]