Grief and guilt struck North Korea as Hyon Song-Wol suffered the death penalty on Aug. 20. Hyon, a musician and former lover of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, was slain by a firing squadron for allegedly participating in the production of pornographic footage.
A musician for the Unhasu Orchestra, Hyon and her affiliates were arrested by the authorities on Aug. 17. An unidentified source accused them of producing and selling sex tapes, which is illegal in North Korea. The situation worsened for Hyon and her affiliates when a rumor about them having Bibles manifested, labeling them as dissidents.
Hyon and her affiliates were executed in front of their families, friends, and other Korean musicians, perhaps reminding them of the consequences should any more crimes occur. What's particularly amazing is that there were no indications of regret or sorrow from Kim noted in any news sources. This portrays Kim as the North Korean version of Henry VIII, a character renowned for the execution of his many wives. Sex tape allegations aside, the likely reason for Hyon's execution could be the previous history she had with North Korea's leader. Perhaps Kim feared that this scandal could have negatively impacted public opinion, harming his image.
Kim is considered a true visionary in North Korea. Thus, any notion of an affair with Hyon, a woman labeled a dissident and a participant in a sex tape would diminish his integrity and cause North Koreans to question his authority. Thus, the firing squadron's execution of Hyon and members of the Unhasu Orchestra sever Kim's ties with his former lover and preserve his image in the public eye. North Korea is an authoritarian country where the inhabitants abide by strict laws and have little contact with other countries; thus, Kim must maintain the image of a stoic, firm leader who completely enforces the country's laws.
Hyon and Kim established their friendship and eventual relationship 10 years ago, but Kim's father Kim Jong-Il disapproved and forbade them from seeing each other. Although she married a soldier, it was rumored that Kim and Hyon continued their affair in secret. If this secret affair is true, then there is another factor: Kim's wife Ri Sol-Ju.
Interestingly, Ri was also a member of the Unhasu Orchestra before marrying Kim. Learning about the execution of her former troupe has presumably left her devastated but, then again, there has been no mention of any grievances or words from her. Could she have been privy to the secret affair between her husband and Hyon? If so, then maybe the knowledge of the orchestra's sexual antics came from the inside or even her. The pattern fits appropriately because Ri is no longer associated with the Unhasu Orchestra and safe from capital punishment; thus, there is very little at stake for her. This tragic incident grants Ri one gain: the undivided attention of Kim.
Thus, Ri or someone close to her could have leaked evidence of Hyon's and the Unhasu Orchestra's sexual antics to the authorities, thus eliminating the one woman who may have jeopardized her marriage with Kim. Likewise, Kim executes his former lover for fear of ruining his reputation and marriage, preserving public opinion and image. Either way, both would have benefited from Hyon's execution.
But as with all things out of North Korea, no one can truly be sure.