SEOUL, South Korea, Jan. 21 (UPI) — Hyon Song-wol, North Korean popstar and the supposed first love of Kim Jong Un, arrived in South Korea on Sunday, leading a prep team for the North’s art performances at next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Wearing a dark blue coat and a fur shawl around her neck, Hyon was greeted by a barrage of camera flashes as she boarded a bullet train from Seoul headed to the eastern city of Gangneung, where the North’s cultural delegation is expected to perform.
Given her high-profile status and the speculations surrounding her relationship with the North Korean leader, Hyon has received significant media attention in the South.
The 45-year-old rose to fame as a vocalist of the Bochunbo Electronic Band, one of North Korea’s most popular music groups, after graduating from Pyongyang University of Music and Dance in 1994.
During the mid-to-late nineties, she is said to have caught the eyes of high-ranking officials while performing her biggest hit ‘Excellent Horse-like Lady’ in front of former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, Asia Today reported.
She continued to see success in the 2000s, releasing a series of songs including ‘I Love Pyongyang’ and ‘Footsteps of Soldiers.
During this time, she is rumored to have dated incumbent leader Kim Jong Un when he returned from his studies in Switzerland.
His father Kim Jong Il reportedly disapproved of the relationship which led to their alleged break-up after which Hyon is believed to have married an army officer and went on to have a son.
Hyon is 12 years older than Kim and 10 years older than his wife Ri Sol-ju who was her band mate in the Unhasu Orchestra.
In 2012, Hyon joined the all-female Western-style Morangbong Band which was reportedly formed under the orders of Kim Jong Un.
She briefly disappeared from public eye in 2013 when it was rumored she’d made pornographic videos.
Speculation of her execution was proved false when she was subsequently spotted on various occasions.
The singer appears to have remained in Kim’s inner circle as she was promoted to the ruling Workers Party’s Central Committe in October last year.
She is said to have proven her devotion to Kim in December 2015, when the Morangbong Band was scheduled to perform in front of Beijing officials, South China Morning Post reported.
When asked to modify the program to tone down excessive idolization of Kim, Hyon purportedly called off the gig and returned to Pyongyang with her band.
The 21-strong Morangbong Band may be one of the acts to perform as part of the North’s cultural troupe to the Olympic Games.
Hyon will return to Pyongyang Monday after examining various concert venues and consulting dates and programs of the troupe’s performances in Seoul and Gangneung City.