Kim Jong-un's alleged girlfriend Hyon Song-wol sings "Excellent Horse-Like Lady"

North Korean leader's "mystery woman" is a formerly married pop star.

This is a guest post from the NS's web editor, Caroline Crampton.

Kim Jong-il may be gone, but fortunately for the rest of us, his talent for the unutterably bizarre appears to have been hereditary.

His son, Kim Jong-un, has provided us all with a treat in the form of his alleged girlfriend's pop career.

Hyon Song-wol, who has been spotted repeatedly with North Korea's supreme leader in recent weeks, seems to be the former vocalist of the Bochonbo Electronic Music Band. Here's their 2005 hit "Excellent Horse-Like Lady" for your enjoyment:

The band were nothing if not loyal - other hits apparently included “Footsteps of Soldiers,” “I Love Pyongyang,” “She Is a Discharged Soldier,” and “We are Troops of the Party".

It's said that Kim Jong-un first dated Hyon about ten years ago, but it is speculated that Kim Jong-il felt her to be an unsuitable partner for a future leader of a totalitarian regime, and separated them. Now with crazy-daddy out of the picture, Hyon is back on the scene, and there are rumours that they are already married and just waiting for the opportune moment to break the good news to the already-delighted-because-they-have-to-be population of North Korea.

I, for one, am rooting for them to be the new Kate and Wills. If she sticks around, she might make more songs.

 

Hyon Song-wol in the video for "Excellent Horse-Like Lady".

Caroline Crampton is assistant editor of the New Statesman. She writes a weekly podcast column.

Photo: Getty
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Donald Trump's inauguration signals the start of a new and more unstable era

A century in which the world's hegemonic power was a rational actor is about to give way to a more terrifying reality. 

For close to a century, the United States of America has been the world’s paramount superpower, one motivated by, for good and for bad, a rational and predictable series of motivations around its interests and a commitment to a rules-based global order, albeit one caveated by an awareness of the limits of enforcing that against other world powers.

We are now entering a period in which the world’s paramount superpower is neither led by a rational or predictable actor, has no commitment to a rules-based order, and to an extent it has any guiding principle, they are those set forward in Donald Trump’s inaugural: “we will follow two simple rules: hire American and buy American”, “from this day forth, it’s going to be America first, only America first”.

That means that the jousting between Trump and China will only intensify now that he is in office.  The possibility not only of a trade war, but of a hot war, between the two should not be ruled out.

We also have another signal – if it were needed – that he intends to turn a blind eye to the actions of autocrats around the world.

What does that mean for Brexit? It confirms that those who greeted the news that an US-UK trade deal is a “priority” for the incoming administration, including Theresa May, who described Britain as “front of the queue” for a deal with Trump’s America, should prepare themselves for disappointment.

For Europe in general, it confirms what should already been apparent: the nations of Europe are going to have be much, much more self-reliant in terms of their own security. That increases Britain’s leverage as far as the Brexit talks are concerned, in that Britain’s outsized defence spending will allow it acquire goodwill and trade favours in exchange for its role protecting the European Union’s Eastern border.

That might allow May a better deal out of Brexit than she might have got under Hillary Clinton. But there’s a reason why Trump has increased Britain’s heft as far as security and defence are concerned: it’s because his presidency ushers in an era in which we are all much, much less secure. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.