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.

Michael Nagle / Stringer / Getty
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Let's use words not weapons to defeat Islamic State, says Syrian journalist

A group of citizen journalists who report on life inside Raqqa won recognition at the British Journalism Awards.

On Tuesday night, Abdalaziz Alhamza, from the Syrian campaign organisation Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS), received the prestigious Marie Colvin Award at the British Journalism Awards on behalf of the group.

RBSS has been reporting from the northern Syrian city, Islamic State's de facto capital, since 2014 on the violence carried out both by the extremist group and the regime of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The independent organisation comprises 18 journalists based in Raqqa who are supported by 10 more journalists, who publish and translate their findings between Arabic and English, and help their reports reach a wider global audience. The RBSS Twitter feed has almost 70,000 followers, and their Facebook page has over 560,000 likes, marking them as a major news source for the area.

The creation of the group came as a reaction to the heavy stifling of media from within Syria, and aims to “shed light on the overlooking of these atrocities by all parties”, according to their website. Often, posts track the presence of Assad and IS forces in and around the city. Their news reports show the raids and deaths happening within the city, the impact of the ever-diminishing medical supplies and information about recent IS killings. Alongside these are posts which have a civilian-focus, giving voice to the people who are living inside Raqqa, such as local shopkeepers.

Speaking at the British Journalism Awards on Tuesday, Alhamza said: “In 2014, we realised two important things: the first is that the outside world was not going to help us, and the second is that we had to do something. Anything. So we created RBSS.”

Alhamza further explained the campaign group's aims: 

“Our goal was not only to expose IS criminality, but also to resist them. We did that by capturing and distributing images and videos of life in Raqqa under IS.”

“My colleagues and I never thought or even could imagine the level of suffering our people has been subjected to in the last five years. We learned the hard way that freedom doesn’t come cheap.”

“The scenes of extreme violence and humiliation the group visited on our city’s people. We wanted to make sure the world – even if it wasn’t going to help us – knew what was going on.

Though constantly living under threat, Alhamza’s speech last night showed the pride and importance that RBSS place on publishing the horrors of daily life within Syria.

“Our work shows that we can fight arms with words, and that ultimately is the only way to defeat them, and IS knows it.