North Korean singer Hyon Song-wol has been spotted attending official events and trips alongside the supreme leader Kim Jong-Un. Notably, the pop-star, believed to be the leader's lover, was seen by his side during a military parade on October 10. She seemed to have taken up the duties previously performed by the leader's sister Kim Yo-Jong. Questions have arisen about the change in roles of three important women in Kim's life as his wife and sister appear to be fading from public view.
There appears to be a powershift in Pyongyang as the supreme leader returns to the limelight following reports of his illness. 36-year-old Kim vanished for a while earlier this year apparently due to ill health. In his absence, his 32-year-old sister was seen taking over leadership roles. She was seen as a replacement in case the supreme leader did not recover from his ailments.
Kim Yo-Jong's rise to power does not seem to have gone down well with the chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea. Since July, the powerful woman has only been spotted fleetingly on two public occasions. Before the rumours of her taking over power from Kim, the younger sibling played a prominent role during public events and appearances of the supreme leader.
The military parade earlier this month saw the 43-year-old pop-star replacing Kim Yo-Jong. Hyon Song-wol was seen standing behind Kim during his speech and receiving flowers given to the leader. The sister of the head of state was seen seated with lower-ranking officials and was only shown once during the three-hour broadcast.
Kim Yo-Song's slow shift away from the spotlight is similar to that of Kim's wife Ri Sol-ju. According to The Times, the mother of the leader's children had not made a public appearance since January. It is speculated that she might have had another child, the Daily Mail reported.
Peter Ward, a Seoul-based researcher on North Korea, pointed out that powershifts in the nation at times occurred for no apparent reason. He believes that neither of the three women is in any danger. In 2013, Hyon Song-wol had reportedly been executed by a firing squad. The reports turned out to be fake after she made a public appearance months later.