What Is N.Korea's Moranbong Troupe?

  • By Kim Myong-song

    January 15, 2018 12:07

    The leader of North Korea's Moranbong troupe has been included in the country's delegation to cross-border talks scheduled for Monday. This suggests that the entertainers will be dispatched to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

    Hyon Song-wol is rumored to be North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's ex-girlfriend and is believed to be in her 40s. Last year, her name was included among candidates for the powerful Central Committee of North Korea's Workers Party, which suggests she still enjoys Kim's trust.

    In December 2015, she abruptly canceled a performance in Beijing just four hours before it was to start and flew back to North Korea. Chinese officials apparently demanded a change to the repertoire and objected to plans to project a North Korean missile launch on the backdrop. Instead of complying, Hyon ordered her charges to pack up and leave.

    Hyon Song-wol (in a red circle), the leader of North Korea's Morangbong troupe, applauds behind North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju in July 2012, in this screen grab from the [North] Korean Central News Agency (file photo).

    Formed in 2012, when Kim was taking power, the outfit is modeled after a western girl band and has 10 members.

    The performers made international headlines at the time by wearing short skirts and tank tops and playing Western tunes. They are known as Kim Jong-un's favorite troupe and have performed at most major North Korean events. They have been touring the North since last year.

    If they come to South Korea, they could perform in Seoul or Gangneung, though it remains to be seen whether they will agree to cut out the martial aspects of their show.

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