July 13, 2021 13:52
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has rewarded the country's queen of official entertainment, Kim Ok-ju, with the title of "People's Artist."
Kim Jong-un seems to have taken a fancy to the celebrated interpreter of such a propaganda classic as "We Call Him Father" who is still only in her 30s.
Even her nearest rival, the leader's rumored ex-girlfriend Hyon Song-wol, has not been given the honor, though she has risen from the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble to his protocol officer.
The official Rodong Sinmun on Monday carried a photo of Kim Jong-un with young entertainers who were being honored in a ceremony at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang the previous day. On his right, with an arm draped over his shoulder and flashing her trademark coy smile, sits Kim Ok-ju.
Last month, she made headlines when she sang more than half of the songs during a big concert for the nomenklatura. And in February, during a performance marking the birthday of former leader Kim Jong-il, the smitten leader demanded two encores from her.
Kim Ok-ju has even performed in South Korea, coming here as a member of the Samjiyon Orchestra during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Kim Jong-un's patronage of young performers may also be aimed at stemming the corrupting influence of South Korean pop music in the Stalinist country or rewarding entertainers who most enthusiastically toe the party line.
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