When I posted last week on l'affaire Ri Sol-ju - the growing scandal concerning Kim Jong-un's wife, and the execution of her former show-biz colleagues on pornography charges - I wondered if perhaps someone, somewhere, held a video of the first lady enjoying some intimate moments, which might help to explain the regime's extreme edginess. It turns out I'm not the only one wondering:
Recent weeks have seen considerable speculation over the possible existence of erotic footage of Ri Sol Ju, the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong Eun. While it is impossible to confirm or deny the claims, which emerged out of the alleged execution of one of Kim’s former lovers, there is plentiful evidence of elite interest in pornography to give weight to the story.
“Pornographic videos produced in Japan began to enter North Korea back in the 1980s. They were carried into the North by people travelling on the Mangyongbong,” a source familiar with the internal workings of Chongryon, the association for North Korean residents living in Japan, told Daily NK on the 7th. “There were these Chongryon people who were responsible for procuring and delivering the videos to North Korea.”
“The pornography that came in this way was then passed down to high-ranking North Korean officials via Kim Jong Il. The watching of pornographic videos thus became common practice for officials around Kim,” the source continued. “Videos of North Korean performers also circulated privately within Chongryon in Japan. However, it has not been confirmed whether Ri Sol-Ju, like Kim’s former lover Hyon Song Wol, ever produced pornographic videos.”
The source explained that during Kim Jong Il’s infamous private parties, the time when many final policy decrees were issued by the North Korean leader, the so-called “Pleasure Corps”, a similarly infamous troupe of attractive young women charged with providing entertainment to Kim and those around him, would perform for the guests. Moreover, Kim was known to occasionally give erotic videos to officials around him as gifts, part of the broader system of “gift politics” with which his rule was synonymous.
“Clearly, the lewd culture in North Korea began with the widespread dissemination of obscene videos from Chongryon in Japan,” the source concluded, before asserting, “Kim Jong Il’s idea of night life, such as these parties, as good as encouraged depravity in his officials.”
“Right now, there is all this controversy over the existence of the Ri Sol Ju obscene video; but North Korean officials all know about videos featuring renowned performers because of the growth of lewd culture between them,” he added. “Simply, we don’t know whether Ri Sol Ju was ever in any such pornographic video, and need to check more to find out.”...
The scandal swirling around Ri Sol Ju first erupted in the aftermath of the rumoured execution by firing squad of a handful of people for their involvement in the production of salacious material. Most important among the group was Hyun Song Wol, Kim Jong Eun’s former lover and a one-time member of Pocheonbo. The investigation into Hyun is said to have unmasked evidence that Ri also has erotic videos in her past. Whether true or not, the speculation has since travelled far and wide both inside and outside North Korea.
The Daily NK have been targeted for abuse from Pyongyang for their coverage of this story, which suggests that it's hitting close to home:
“Uriminzokkiri,” the propaganda site aimed at South Korea by the North Korean Committee for Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, attacked Daily NK on September 30th for besmirching the "highest dignity" of North Korea, meaning leader Kim Jong Eun.
In an article entitled "Daily NK and Other Hack News Agencies Should Bear this in Mind,” the website asserted, "The Daily NK and other plotters who recklessly mess with our highest dignity, and the puppet conservative gang and anti-Republic confrontational schemers who control and support them, are delivering their last screams of agony in fear of the growing strength of our Republic."
"An abnormal state of affairs between the two Koreas is occurring despite our country's guiding efforts to bring forth a positive atmosphere,” it went on. “The return to a grave state of North-South relations is due to the puppet conservative gang using Daily NK, schemers and the conservative media to spread all sorts of evil, low-down plots and fabricated sophistries.
"The puppet conservative gang and the scheming, conservative media and Daily NK it leads must bear in mind that their treachery against us will be met with a high price. Our ten million-strong army and citizenry will never forgive those who insult the greatness of our leader, and will face stern punishment."
The faux anger stemmed from an article entitled "North in Ri Scandal Damage Control," which was published by Daily NK on September 25th. At the time, Daily NK reported that the North Korean authorities were having trouble containing the spread of unverified rumors of Ri Sol Ju's scandalous past.
More of the same can be expected. It's too juicy a story to just die quietly.