Girl group leader becomes powerful political figure in North Korea
Moranbong Land leader Hyon Song-wol is purportedly Kim Jong-un’s ex-girlfriend and at one time was thought to have been executed
By Yi Whan-woo
Hyon Song-wol, the leader of North Korea’s all-girl propaganda band Moranbong Band, is among the noteworthy figures joining the North Korean Workers’ Party’s Central Committee at the party’s recent reshuffle.
She now co-serves as an alternate member of the committee’s political bureau, its most powerful body.
There have been prior cases of artists joining the party’s Central Committee, as either regular or alternate members, according to sources, Wednesday.
But Hyon’s rise still surprised many because she was once believed to have been executed by Kim Jong-un after being embroiled in a pornography scandal in 2013.
Moreover, Hyon, 38, also purportedly Kim’s ex-girlfriend, is rumoured to have an “uncomfortable relationship” with the young dictator’s wife, Ri Sol-ju.
“We found Hyon and Ri are rather close to each other,” an intelligence source said. “Hyon’s promotion indicates Kim fully trusts her to join the North Korean ruling party’s inner circle.”
The sources speculated Kim “highly assessed” Hyon’s loyalty in December 2015 when her band visited Beijing.
The band had been scheduled to perform before high-ranking Chinese officials as part of efforts to bolster Pyongyang-Beijing ties.
But Hyon called off the gig abruptly and returned to Pyongyang with her band just hours before the performance, after Chinese authorities asked them to modify part of the programme. The authorities reportedly found the programme problematic for excessively idolising Kim. But Hyon refused their request and decided to cancel the performance instead.
She reportedly claimed “not a single dot can be taken out of the programme because it is already supervised by our leader.”
Hyon was then accompanied by a senior official of the Worker’s Party’s international bureau, who was stunned by Hyon’s decision and tried to convince her not to call off the performance.
“The incident shows Hyon’s status in North Korea. It was easily predictable that Kim would promote her to join the Korean Workers’ Party’s Central Committee if you understood the significance of the incident.”
Meanwhile, there are growing complaints among senior North Korean officials over Hyon excessively wielding power, the sources said.
“We heard she is being rude to officials who are far older and more experienced than her,” a source said.
The Moranbong Band was formed in 2012 under Kim’s order.
All band members were handpicked by Kim.