Speculation is rife over the mysterious reappearance of Kim Jong-un’s former popstar lover, who seemingly has taken the place of the North Korean ruler’s sister.
Hyon Song-wol, 43, has made multiple public appearances alongside the dictator, 36, including at a military parade this month and on official trips, according to Fox News.
It follows theories surrounding the whereabouts of Kim’s wife, who has not been seen in public for months, including at the military parade she historically attended.
The singer appears to have taken the reigns from Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, 32, who had earlier this year been the most prominent female figure at the leader’s side.
His sister seems to have taken a back seat, being among other VIP attendees at a recent event, while Kim’s wife Ri Sol-ju, 31, hasn’t made a public appearance since the new year.
The shift in Kim’s public female accomplices has sparked speculation from local media that his sister could be plotting her own political rise.
“The positive theory is that the leader grew up and is becoming more independent,” Wang Son-taek, a South Korean journalist, wrote on the NK News website.
“This would mean that Kim Yo-jong is now on the right track towards her own leadership-building path and is strongly supported by her brother.”
The journalist said the move could also suggest that Kim is “disappointed in his sister”, who he had historically relied on for emotional support.
“This would no doubt spell psychological trouble within the Kim family,” Wang wrote.
In an October 10 military march in Pyongyang, Kim’s former lover directed dignitaries to their seats, accepted flowers on behalf of him, and stood behind him while he delivered an emotive speech.
Roles such as these were previously performed by Kim’s sister, who on that occasion sat several metres away and was displayed just once during a three-hour television broadcast.
Hyon leads an all-female pop group called the Moranbong Band, comprised of 10 members and was in 2012 selected by Kim.
The front-woman was in 2018 a key player in negotiating the last-minute participation of North Korea in the South Korean Winter Olympics.
It wasn’t until recently that Hyon appeared to take on the role of Kim’s sister, who in the first few months of the year seemed to be closest to the North Korean leader.
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