11.09.2013 Author: Konstantin Asmolov

Pyongyang and another “canard”

https://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20110520000182South Korean newspaper the “Chosun Ilbo”, which “enriched” the Korean Internet studies with the expression “execution with a mortar”, told the world about another crime of the Pyongyang regime. It turns out that the DPRK authorities held a public execution of about a dozen people convicted of producing and distributing pornography. A former lover of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was also among those executed.

According to anonymous sources of the publication, the singer of a popular Korean electric instruments orchestra “Milky Way” (Korean – Ynhasu) Hyun Son Wol was arrested on August 17, 2013. About a dozen other members of the orchestra were arrested together with her, as well as musicians and dancers of the band “Vansedzhan”.

According to the newspaper, those arrested were accused of acting in pornographic materials and of distributing these, including in the PRC. In addition, copies of the Bible, which is strictly forbidden in the DPRK, were found in the possession of some of those arrested, and so the accused were treated as political dissidents.

Three days later, Hyun Son Wol and Moon Gen Jin, the leader of the band, were sentenced to death. The sentence of death by shooting with a machine gun was carried out on August 20 in the presence of other members of the aforementioned bands, which, of course, were disbanded. The families of the arrested were sent to political prisoner jails and camps.

Rumors of a love affair of DPRK leader Kim Jong-un and Hyun Son Wol have been in the media for a quite a long time. According to international media reports, Kim Jong-un met the vocalist in early 2000s. However, the romance between them was broken on the insistence of Kim Jong-il, after which Hyun Son Wol was given in marriage to a soldier, although the rumors that the couple continued to meet did not stop. Therefore, the execution may concern Lee Sol Ju, the current wife of Kim Jong-un, who was also a singer in the orchestra “Ynhasu”.

To what extent is this news trustworthy? Unfortunately, there are several reasons to believe, with a high probability, that it is just another propaganda canard.

First, let us recall what kind of newspaper the “Chosun Ilbo” is, and with what other news of this kind it has entertained us recently.

The “Chosun Ilbo” (literally – “Korean Daily Newspaper”), is the most right wing of mainstream newspapers, as well as having the largest circulation and being the most popular. It may be called the mouthpiece of the right-wing conservative circles of the Republic of Korea, and it often publishes materials that are not confirmed by other publications. Therefore, according to the information of the “Chosun Ilbo”, China sent troops into the North Korean free economic zone (FEZ) Rason to ensure the safety of its personnel and infrastructure. The official Beijing denied this information, calling it “complete nonsense”, and even a hypothetical deployment of troops was called an “absolutely unthinkable thing”. 

Then there was the news about a skirmish on the market, against the background of the beginning of the “Arab Spring”, which was turned by this newspaper into: “Hundreds of people clashed with security forces”, even though the South Korean news agency “Yonhap” did not confirm the fact of mass unrest.

This newspaper launched the “canard” that “Kim Jon-un has decided to kill his elder brother once again, but Beijing prevented it”. It threw in the story that the resignation of the head of the General Staff of Korean Army, Lee Young Ho, was accompanied by a shooting in which from 20 to 30 soldiers were killed. However, they had to point out that the fact of the shooting “cannot be confirmed at one hundred percent”, and some more time was required for ascertaining the circumstances.

Moreover, the “Chosun Ilbo” even found the Korean track of the “Russian Mafia” in search for the “millions of Kim’s family”. Quoting a defector from DPRK, who was anonymous as usual, the newspaper noted that North Korea allegedly resorted to the services of “Russian Mafia” for “money laundering” and spreading counterfeit foreign currency in Russia, and just in 2008, it managed to launder about $30 million with the help of these criminal organizations.

And finally, it was the execution with a mortar (despite the almost complete impossibility of this being done, from the technical point of view) of a general who either cried too little at the funeral of Kim Jong-il, or arranged a “big booze-up with girls during days of mourning”.

Overall, after such a “credible history”, all North Korean news from this source should be greatly distrusted.

Second, the source of the information is some unknown person from China. The validity of these informants is always doubtful, but there is one more thing in this case. Describing the details of the execution, the informant does it so that the question arises: “How could he know about SUCH details?” Was he present at the execution, or simply lied just to be witty?

In principle, such error is quite common among novice propagandists. In the circle of the author’s friends, this is referred to as “Katya”, after a group of nationalists “threw in” a story about a raped and murdered girl Katya into the network a few years ago, providing it with such details that could be known only by a participant in the crime, to get greater emotional impact. And they were “caught” because of this.

By the way, the same anonymous “sources” claimed before that Hyun Son Wol Sol and Lee Sol Ju were the same person. When Kim Jong-un began to appear in public with an unknown beauty, it prompted a range of “canards”. Including: “According to South Korean intelligence, the girl’s name is Hyun Son Wol, and she is a famous Korean singer… The rumors about this love affair were very popular among the North Korean elite, but Kim Jong-il, having learned everything, forbade the lovers to meet.”

Third, it is the strange contradictions, to which not everyone paid attention. On the one hand, the girls filmed a pornographic video, in which they took part, and sold it in China. Theoretically, it is possible, but requires certain moral principles. Especially considering the fact that the soloists of the aforementioned bands enjoy relatively very high standards of living for the DPRK.

However, at the same time, alleged Bibles were found on the girls, and that they are secret Christians, deeply believing in God, in spite of persecution by the regime. Such faith theoretically requires high moral standards and a sincere adherence to Christian commandments, including “Do not commit adultery”. Therefore, it is a completely absurd – deeply devout Christians starring in porn and sending these products for sale abroad.

Finally, let us take into account the overall domestic political background. Now the UN special commission, studying the situation with human rights in the DPRK, is working in South Korea. It does this mainly through interviewing North Korean defectors. The mood of the commission members is not pro-Pyongyang at all, but a great number of their respondents denounce the Juche hell so diligently that the stories of the category “Then they threw me into the open-hearth furnace under a road roller, but I wore felt boots and so I survived” [1] are doubtful even for them. The new thriller about the murder of the group of dancers came just in time, and it probably will take its place on the list of crimes of the regime.

It seems that the South Korean propaganda has decided to succeed not by the quality of the fakes, but by their number, on the principle: they will not be able to deny everything or they just will not have enough time to do it. Now, we just have to wait when new information about performances of the “shot ensemble” appears.

Konstantin Asmolov, PhD of Historical Sciences, leading research scientist at the Centre for Korean Studies, Institute of Far East of RAS – exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


[1] Testimony of Shin Don Heck, who became a “star” of the commission and to whom a separate text will be devoted by the author necessarily, is not particularly different from this “example”.


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