Kim Jong-Un Ex-Girlfriend Among Performers Executed by Machinegun

The North Korean leader ordered the executions of a dozen performers belonging to two musical groups, including a former girlfriend, according to sources cited by the S. Korean mass-circulation daily Chosun Ilbo.

A dozen prominent members of the Unhasu Orchestra and Wangjaesan Light Music Band were executed on August 20 by a firing squad wielding machineguns, according to sources in China. The victims had been arrested on August 17 and charged with violating N. Korean laws on pornography by allegedly videotaping themselves having sex and selling the videos in China as well as in N. Korea.

The most famous among the victims were Kim Jong-un’s former girlfriend Hyon Song-wol, a member of the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble, and Mun Kyong-jin, director of the Unhasu Orchestra which had garnered international attention with a concert last July attended by Kim featuring Disney characters and clips of American movies and songs. Mun had been decorated by N. Korea in 2005 after winning first place at an international competition in Hungary.

“They were executed with machine guns while the key members of the Unhasu Orchestra, Wangjaesan Light Band and Moranbong Band as well as the families of the victims looked on,” a source based in China is quoted as saying.

The families of the victims are believed to have been sent to prison camps. N. Korea is known to treat family members as being guilty by association as a way to enhance the deterrent effect of punishment for violating its laws. The victims had also been caught with bibles, which made them guilty of violating the regime’s harsh laws against practicing religion.

Kim had met Hyon about a decade ago but was ordered by his late father Kim Jong-il to end the relationship. Hyon married a soldier while Kim married Ri Sol-ju, a member of the Unhasu Orchestra. Rumors of an affair continued to circulate after the marriages. Some speculate that Ri may have had a hand in the executions. Both the Unhasu Orchestra and Wangjaesan Light Music Band have been disbanded.

The executions are a chilling epilogue to media speculation in the wake of the concert featuring Americana that Kim may embrace more cultural openness for his nation. Instead they seem to confirm the views of cynics who maintain that Kim’s overriding priority is quashing any perceived threat to his absolute power over the nation and its people.