North Korea on Sunday slammed media reports that linked leader Kim Jong-un's wife with the public execution of his former mistress on Aug. 20.
Hyon Song-wol was reportedly among some 20 musicians who were executed by firing squad on charges of videotaping themselves having sex and selling the videos.
The North claimed the media reports, which pointed out that Kim's wife Ri Sol-ju worked with the same troupe as Hyon before she married the leader, were false rumors aimed at damaging its "highest dignity."
The official KCNA news agency said North Korea would "mercilessly punish" anyone who questions its "highest dignity."
Japan's Asahi Shimbun on Saturday quoted a high-ranking North Korean defector as saying nine members of the Unhasu Orchestra as well as singers, musicians and dancers with the Wangjaesan Light Music Band were nabbed by security forces for saying Ri had engaged in the same acts in the past.