Last weekend may have witnessed the geopolitical equivalent of the Kanye West-Kim Kardashian Date of the Century, when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un showed up at a couple events with a mystery woman in tow. But was it his wife, his mistress or just his boring sister at his side? And what does it all mean?
The pretty woman with short black hair showed up with Kim Jong-un on Saturday at an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-un's grandfather. And then she sat by his side at a Sunday concert where they were entertained by an unauthorized Disney-themed performance. So far, North Korean media has been mum about her identity.
This has turned North Korea watchers into gossiping middle-schoolers, tittering about Kim Jong-un's new lady friend. The most salacious explanation, floated by Korea Joongang Daily, is that the woman is a married pop singer named Hyon Song-wol, and that she's Kim Jong-un's mistress. Not exactly Lady Gaga, Hyon Song-wol is best known in North Korea for her smash hit "Excellent Horse-Like Lady."
The supposed backstory between Kim and Hyon is complete with a forbidden love and dramatic reunion: Kim and Hyon fell in love shortly after Kim returned to Korea from studying abroad in Switzerland, according to rumors cited by Joongang. But Kim Jong-un's dad, Kim Jong-il disapproved of the romance and so she married a North Korean army officer instead and had his kid. But the fire still burned, and soon after Kim Jong-il died, the two picked up their romance where they left it.
Then this weekend, Kim was like, "Hey, Hyon Song-wol, wanna get dinner and celebrate my dead grandpa' birthday and then watch a bunch of people in Disney costumes dance around?" Maybe they went and saw Magic Mike after.
Unfortunately, a more boring explanation is probably more likely. Kim Jong-un's every public appearance is carefully orchestrated to send some message to the world and/or North Korean citizens. What would appearing with a mistress say, besides "I'm a baller?" Hopefully Kim Jong-un isn't obsessed with appearing cool to all the kids who teased him in boarding school for being a chubby basketball-obsessed nerd. (Incidentally, appearing in public with a hot mistress is much cooler than any of the supposedly 'cool' things Obama does.)
Some say that the woman is in fact Kim's little-seen younger sister, Kim Yeo-jung. She was one of Kim Jong-il's closest confidants, and a public appearance with her could bolster Kim Jong-Uun's credibility. However, a mystery woman who appeared with Kim Jong-un during last year's mourning ceremonies for Kim Jong-il was also speculated to be his sister, and she looked nothing like the woman who was with him this weekend.
Another possibility is that the woman is Kim Jong-un's wife. Kim is rumored to have married a PhD. student in her late-20s last year. Communist leaders' wives are rarely public figures, but Kim Jong-un may be trying to bite his grandfather's swag, since Kim Il-sung notably appeared with his wife during a visit by Jimmy Carter in 1994, according to the blog North Korea Leadership Watch.
Finally, it could just be some random high-level government official. So boring. But thanks to the fact that we know next to nothing about the inner workings of North Korea, we can speculate about the most outlandish scenario possible and inscribe deep political meaning to what could be a very trivial detail. Not that that ever happens in America.
[Image via AP]