North Korea's Kim Jong-un, on the other hand, was never a charming, athletic person. He played basketball, but given his great love of the NBA, it is likely he was an average-at-best player, as devoted fans are rarely superbly athletic themselves. He skied in Europe during his education in Switzerland, but once again, it is likely he was average-at-best. Every known photo of him shows him to be the corpulent lush we know today.
Kim is building a major water park in Sinuiju, just across the Yalu River from the Chinese city of Dandong. The location is a great place for curious tourists to gain a look at the hermit kingdom, especially given that Chinese cruise ships routinely pass within 100' of the site. Given North Korea's insistence -- at the point of a rifle -- that North Koreans are not allowed to leave their country, it quickly becomes clear that this water park will not be available to the average Korean. Locals believe that the water park is intended by Kim to impress China, a bizarre thought in itself given that North Korea is considered to be a human zoo by pretty much everyone in the world.
Every photo of Kim now attempts to portray him as a charismatic, educated leader, but the people surrounding him reveal the truth beneath the surface. Typical photos include a multitude of sycophants clapping, taking notes, or smiling in that obsequious manner favored by toadies everywhere. He likes to be photographed surrounded by adoring children, but in North Korea even young ones know that they and their parents can be sent to a prison camp for no reason at all, so they quickly learn what to kiss and when. And he is never see in an orphanage outside Pyongyang, in other words, he is only seen with children of the elite, with elite translating to the core class representing 25% of the population, with the remainder occupied by the wavering class (55%) and hostile class (20%), as per Kim Il-sung's evil songbun scheme.
Along with a water park, Kim ordered the building of a ski resort. As with the water park, it is highly unlikely that ordinary Koreans will be allowed to use it, just his family and a few members of the elite, not to mention that many Koreans cannot find enough to eat on a daily basis or that there are many orphans in the country simply struggling to survive. Kim is most upset that Swiss companies have declined to provide him with ski lifts.
A popular North Korean comedian, Lee Choon-hong, who once performed for Kim's late father, Kim Jong-il, has been sentenced to an indefinite period of hard labor in a coal mine for a "slip of the tongue" during a performance last month. He was yanked off the stage in the middle of a performance and sent directly to the coal mine. And Rodney Dangerfield thought his audiences were tough!
Lee had better mind his manners because executions and torture are a part of daily life in North Korean prisons. Shin Dong-hyuk, who was featured on 60 Minutes and recently testified before a hearing on North Korea's brutality, told of the time he dropped a sewing machine and had his finger cut off as punishment, which would only make it more likely that he would drop it the next time.
Life just keeps getting worse and worse in North Korea. Many people are now escaping in the only way they can, via the use of methamphetamine, known locally as bingdu.
"Use of the drug by groups of secondary school and college students has now become especially conspicuous," said a source in North Korea’s northern Yanggang province.
Mark Twain said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." That opinion should be kept in mind when considering the report that of 133 defectors polled by Seoul's Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, 61.7% believed Kim had a majority support of his people. Given that North Koreans are almost completely isolated from the outside world, as only the people at the very top have access to the Internet, and that virtually any resistance to the government is punished swiftly and brutally, it is no wonder that the majority of people fully support their illustrious leader.
North Korea, a/k/a the DPRK, has the DPRKMusicChannel, its own YouTube channel. The song My Motherland, the DPRK, shows Pyongyang and its spoiled residents in all their glory, but for obvious reasons, the labor camps are omitted. The song Let's Study! features an all-girl Moranbong Band. The Wangjaesan Dancers give us a tame partial striptease in their song Aloha Oe (Until we meet again). Another offering is We Serve the General by the Wangjaesan Light Music Band.
Kim's former lover, Hyon Song-wol, has been executed for allegedly creating pornographic videos along with 11 fellow singers, musicians, and dancers of the Unhasu Orchestra and Wanghaesan Light Music Band. Hyon's big hit came in 2005 with A Girl in the Saddle of a Steed.
Kim's father, Kim Jong-il, disapproved of his son marrying Hyon. Kim Jong-il had at least one wife and three mistresses, with the wife having been specially chosen by his father, Kim Il-sung. Kim Jong-un is a product of one of the mistresses, Ko Yong-hui.
North Korea asserted that the group -- executed by machine gun in front of other members of their band, with those witnesses immediately sent to the camps -- also possessed Bibles, a serious crime in a country where only the Kim family is allowed to be portrayed as gods.
One never knows what to believe regarding North Korea. Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American given the birth-name of Pae Jun-ho, was arrested there and sent to prison ostensibly for possessing a computer disk containing sensitive information. However, sources point to the fact that he is a Christian and merely took photos of starving North Korean children. Sources also speculate that Bae may be simply being used as a political pawn to extract concessions on nuclear or other issues from the West.
"If these people had only made pornographic videos, then it is simply not believable that their punishment was execution.They could have been made to disappear into the prison system there instead. Or, as Kim’s wife once belonged to the same group, it is possible that these executions are more about Kim’s wife," said Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo's Waseda University and an authority on North Korean affairs.
So it seems likely that Hyon and her 11 artist friends were not actually executed for making pornographic videos, though her horse-hit might make one wonder if the pornographic videos were a Korean retelling of the apocryphal stories of Catherine the Great having sex with horses. Maybe A Girl in the Saddle of a Steed was remade into A Girl Acting as a Saddle for Various Steeds, Sometimes Two at a Time. Just kidding.
Given North Korea's state-sponsored prostitution, where young, attractive, female entertainers -- collectively given the macabre name of "Happy Corps" -- are coerced into being paramours for the top Kim and his boot-lickers, one might think the executions were merely the usual way to eliminate courtesans who are showing their age. After all, one cannot properly "serve the general" unless one is young and nubile.
Kim's wife, Ri Sol-ju, is a former courtesan and a former member of the Unhasu Orchestra. She and Kim were married in June 2012, seven months after Kim's father died in December 2011. Kim was only free to marry a courtesan -- he clearly prefers their company -- after his father died.
The North Korean secret police recorded one of the executed musicians as having said: "In the past Ri Sol-ju used to play around in the same manner as we did." And this is the reason the musicians had to die, to prevent North Koreans from learning that the first lady is actually just a talented slut, much like Lindsay Lohan or Beyonce.
One might think the DPRK would follow in the footsteps of Stalin who had his opponents erased from history after he had them liquidated. However, the DPRKMusicChannel still offers a music video of Hyon singing A Girl in the Saddle of a Steed in a live version, with comments from the DPRK dismissing the rumors of Hyon's death.
And in a creepy footnote to the execution of the eleven musicians, a DPRK-phile using the name of Leon Davis (note that his comments are included in "Uploader Comments" making him an administrator) whose actual name is Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez added this comment to the DPRKMusicChannel song KCTV: Moranbong Band New Song - Paean to My Motherland M/V: "Thanks, DPRK. I'll take your word for it that this is the Moranbong Band but it sure doesn't have that unique, distinctive "Moranbong Band sound". I don't hear any individual players. No Kang Ryeong Hui's lead guitar; Seonu Hyang Hui's violin; Ri Yoon Hui's drums; Yoo Eun Jeong's cello; Kim Young Mi piano. To my ear, there's only one synch keyboard. Maybe the giveaway is that the drums are embarrassingly weak. Yoon Hui is a world class drummer. She doesn't do "tap...tap...tap". Hope I'm wrong."
He was deviously announcing the new members of the band, given that the old ones are long gone. Or maybe he's just a DPRK groupie and latter-day Walter Duranty, willfully ignorant of the many crimes against humanity which have been committed by the three Kims. Many Americans would have difficulty naming the musicians of many U.S. bands, yet he is able to analyze the Moranbong Band's performance better than a professional critic.
The aforementioned wife has become a trend setter in Pyongyang, with the green blouse she wore now being copied by the North Korean counterfeit clothing industry, not that different from what happened after Kate Middleton wore blue dresses for her engagement and maternity photo sessions.
If Ri is behind the execution of her predecessor in Kim's bed, even indirectly -- Kim and Hyon are rumored to have continued their affair even after Hyon married someone else -- then she is playing a dangerous game which Henry VIII would have recognized. Her recently having given birth to a girl -- as that vaunted diplomat, Dennis Rodman, told us -- makes her vulnerable to court intrigue. Until she has a boy to ensure the continuation of the Kim dynasty, she remains at risk of ending up on the wrong end of a machine gun.
Be careful, ducky. Henry VIII had six wives, with two beheaded -- and your husband is only 30.
Originally posted in 2013 before the reportedly executed Hyon Song-wol returned to public life, perhaps after being suitably reeducated.