International media is reporting that Kim Jong-un ordered his ex girlfriend, Hyon Song-wol and members of her orchestra machine-gunned to death shortly after watching one of their popular performances. They were accused of the rather incongruous crimes of making pornography and possessing bibles. The notion of a cabal of bible-thumping pornographers would be laughable in most countries but perfectly consistent in “the second happiest place on Earth.” Indeed, the bizarre environment created in North Korea makes it very difficult to dismiss stories that would initially appear a hoax. The fact that this is considered in the realm of possibility says much about the state of North Korea.
The report appears to have originated with Chosun Ilbo, which stated: “They were executed with machine guns while the key members of the Unhasu Orchestra, Wangjaesan Light Band and Moranbong Band as well as the families of the victims looked on.” Reports also stated that family members of those executed were sent to prison camps under North Korea’s law of “guilt by association.”
The reports stated that Hyon, her band leader, and the other musicians were executed just three days after their arrests. That is an improvement by the “death by mortar” approach used in an earlier case.
Hyon was famous for her hit single “A Girl In The Saddle Of A Steed” — a pro-regime song that won a Hungarian competition in 2005. It was mistranslated in Western releases as “Excellent Horse-Like Lady”. Below is Hyon’s famous song, which is quintessentially North Korean in its propaganda content and it is hard to imagine what songs actually lost at the Hungarian competition.
According to reports, Kim Jong-un and Hyon were child friends and later sweethearts until Kim’s father Kim Jong-il cut off the relationship. There are rumors that they continued an affair after both married other people and some have suggested that the first lady may have had something to say about the executions. Kim’s current wife Ri Sol-ju was also a member of the Unhasu Orchestra before she married him.
Of course, such atrocities, if true, would not be possible without the continued support of China for the regime. While China has soured on North Korea recently, it still effectively props up the regime to avoid the reunification of Korea on its border.