The Torrid Romantic Life of Kim Jong-il

Yun Hye-yong was a woman beyond the reach even of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il. Yun, the lead singer of Kim's former favorite band Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble, was brutally executed after she spurned Kim's persistent advances and fell in love with another man.

Or so claims Chang Jin-song, an author formerly affiliated with the North Korean Workers' Party, in "Kim Jong-il's Last Woman." Published in May, it is an epic poem that details Kim's private life and inside story of his regime based on the true story of the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble.

According to the book, Kim ordered Yun Hye-yong's songs to be used for the mass gymnastic performance "Arirang," and attended a concert with her on his birthday. Although many women had found the dictator's favor before, none had ever merited a place next to him at a public event. Kim even sent officials to Europe to buy her stage costumes and accessories. Yet Yun loved the band's pianist. When Kim's agents discovered their relationship by tapping her phone, Yun jumped from the roof of Mokran House, an official banquet hall, with her lover. Although the man died instantly, Kim ordered his men to kill Yun after resuscitating her by any means. She was eventually executed at the end of 2003, while still in coma.

From left, Kim Ok, Song Hye-rim and Ko Yong-hui (file photo) From left, Kim Ok, Song Hye-rim and Ko Yong-hui (file photo)

Kim Ok, another of Kim's paramours, was introduced in the South Korean media in July 2006 as his fourth wife. However, the woman whom the media named "Kim Ok" was not the woman who features in a book by Kenji Fujimoto, Kim Jong-il's former personal chef. According to the June issue of the Monthly Chosun, "Kim Ok was in fact Kim Son-ok, a former aide to Jo Myong-rok, the first vice chairman of North Korea's National Defense Commission.

The real Kim Ok was the pianist of Wangjaesan Light Music Band and a graduate of Kumsong Senior Middle School, known for extensively training Kim's private entertainers. Kim loved her more for her bold personality and sharp wit than her looks, and granted her the privilege of speaking informally to him. To Kim, long used to absolute obedience to his authority, Kim Ok's gestures would've appeared refreshing.

Although Kim's former wives Song Hye-rim and Ko Yong-hui were artists, they were civilians to begin with, not women exclusively trained to entertain Kim. But Kim Ok had been selected for such a purpose, and often entertained Kim at the orgies he held with his inner circle. It would have been unthinkable, therefore, for Kim to make Kim Ok his official wife.

Most women with whom Kim was involved were celebrities. It is widely known that he moved in with the actress Song Hye-rim after abandoning his fiancĂ© Kim Yong-sook. Hong Yong-hui, who was bestowed the title of "distinguished actress" at the age of 18, or Woo In-hui, an actress publicly executed for openly speaking about her relationship with Kim, were among many celebrities who had become Kim's paramours.

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 08, 2009 08:50 KST