Honestly, I’m not a huge sports fan. I don’t have a team that I follow nor is there a sport that I play regularly, although I did play varsity volleyball in high school but that was already six years ago. I’m just like any other average Korean when it comes to sports. Every two years I gear up to cheer for the Korean team competing in either the World Cup or the Olympics. And then when it’s over I go back to being pretty much oblivious to sports. The 2012 London Olympic Games are scheduled to begin on July 27th, but until then I thought I’d share an interesting sports story about a man named Luke Elie. Continue reading
In the News – Mysterious woman flanking N.K. leader highly likely to be his wife: gov’t source
SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) — The mysterious woman who has repeatedly been seen closely flanking North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a recent series of public appearances, is highly likely to be his wife, a South Korean government source said Sunday.
“From the protocol point of view, such as this woman’s place and table settings, it is highly likely that she’s his wife and first Chairman Kim must actually be married,” the source said on condition of anonymity, referring to Kim’s title as first chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission.
The unidentified woman first appeared in state media on July 5 when she was seen seated right next to the leader during a music concert. Analysts said at the time she might be either Kim’s wife or a younger sister.
The stylish-looking woman was seen again on July 8 paying tribute to late North Korean founder Kim Il-sung, bowing deeply while standing next to the leader, as uniformed North Korean military officials raised their hands in salute behind the couple dressed in black.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un talks to children during a visit to a kindergarten in Pyongyang as an unidentified woman looks on in North Korean TV footage shown on July 15, 2012. (Yonhap)
On Sunday, the North’s state TV released footage showing Kim bending over to talk to children during the kindergarten visit as the woman, clad in a yellow polka dot dress and a luxurious-looking white cardigan with a stylish hairstyle and high-heeled shoes, looked on next to him.
North Korean officials accompanying the leader were seen standing a few steps behind them.
State media did not identify who she was, but her act was seen as that of a first lady.
Few personal details are known about the young North Korean leader, including his marital status and exact age, except that he studied in Switzerland when he was young. Kim assumed control of the communist nation after his father Kim Jong-il died in December.
Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at the Sejong Institute, said the woman appears to be Kim’s wife, and the North appears to be releasing the images of her to dispel any misgivings among the North Korean public that their leader is too young.
In the News – Who Is Kim Jong Un’s Mystery Woman?
Sister? Lover? Girlfriend? Wife? Speculation is mounting over the identity of a mystery woman and the nature of her relationship with Kim Jong Un, Supreme Leader of North Korea, with whom she has been spotted on a number of public engagements. The short-haired woman, dressed smartly in a black suit, is thought to be in her 20s.
The South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo speculates that the woman may be his sister, Kim Yeo Jong. “Born in 1987, Yeo Jong is now in her mid-20s,” an article posted on its website read. “She apparently went to a school in Switzerland along with Jong Un in the 1990s.”
However, South Korean intelligence experts have identified the woman as Hyon Song Wol, the former front woman of the Bochonbo Electronic Music Band and a married mother whom they believe is having an affair with the North Korean leader.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the Bochonbo Electronic Music Band produced several hit singles that were “hugely popular among the North Korean masses,” but Hyon “disappeared from public view at the time that Mr. Kim emerged as the heir-apparent to his father Kim Jong Il.” Hyon reappeared in public to perform at a concert in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, in early March to mark International Women’s Day.
Rumors of the affair have reportedly been circulating for some time. Kim Jong Un is believed to have begun a romance with the singer a decade ago, but was forced to end the relationship by his father. She is then said to have married a North Korean army officer and given birth to his child. Nothing is known of the current whereabouts of Hyon’s husband and child, or whether she even remains married.
However, others speculate that the woman is in fact Kim Jong Un’s wife, a view shared by Andrei Lankov of Kookmin University in South Korea, an expert on North Korea, who thinks it highly implausible that the Supreme Leader would so publicly reveal his girlfriend. He told CNN that her presence is likely a part of a carefully constructed campaign to appear “much more approachable, humanlike and soft on people” in order to distance Kim Jong Un from his father and predecessor.
Lankov added that Kim Jong Un “travels much more than his father and even [more] than his grandfather. He likes to hug everybody, physically hug. In this regard it’s probable he decided that it might be a good idea to hint that he does have a wife.” If the woman is his wife, then it would mark a significant departure to the secrecy with which his father and grandfather, North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, cloaked their personal lives. Lankov noted, “When his grandfather’s first wife, if you like, the founding mother of the dynasty, was alive, her name was never, never mentioned in media. Her existence was never even hinted at.”
Likewise, Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Waseda University in Tokyo and author of a number of publications on North Korean leadership, told the Daily Telegraph, “It is highly possible that this is his wife and that Kim is trying to show a new style of leadership, of a husband and wife, in North Korea.” Shigemura also observed that Kim Jong Un had been uncharacteristically quiet in the weeks leading up to the woman’s sudden appearance.
Earlier this year he engaged in a large number of high-profile appearances, in an attempt to shore up his position as North Korea’s new leader, following the death of his father in December. It is possible, Shigemura said, that his recent silence could be the result of behind-the-scenes preparations concerning how to publicly introduce his spouse.
The mystery woman was first seen with Kim Jong Un watching a performance of North Korea’s Moranbong band at a theater in Pyongyang on Friday. (The performance included the appearance of various Disney characters, which the Walt Disney Co. confirms were used without its permission.) On Sunday, North Korean state TV showed the woman standing beside the Supreme Leader during a ceremony to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the death of his grandfather.
In the News – Kim Jong-un did not adapt well to school in Switzerland: report
BRUSSELS, April 3 (Yonhap) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un did not adapt well to an international school in Switzerland in the 1990s and his grades were poor, a news report has said.
Kim was absent for 75 days and 105 days in his first and second year at the International School of Bern, respectively, Swiss newspaper Le Matin Dimanche reported Sunday, citing unidentified sources. Continue reading
In the News – King urges N. Korea to stop punishing repatriated defectors
WASHINGTON, March 13 (Yonhap) — The U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights issues demanded in this week’s U.N. meeting that Pyongyang stop punishing forcefully repatriated defectors.
Robert King, attending a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday (local time), shared “deep concerns” about the plight of refugees and asylum seekers from the North, according to a transcript of his remarks released by the State Department
“We urge the DPRK to end the punishment and imprisonment of North Koreans who have sought asylum abroad, as well as their family members,” he said. The DPRK stands for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
A growing number of North Koreans cross the border into China, fleeing their authoritarian and perennially hungry homeland. Beijing, a key communist ally of Pyongyang, has a firm policy of sending them back.
King also called for Pyongyang to allow a visit by Marzuki Darusman, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea. The secretive nation is accused of oppressing many of its 24 million people.
“We hope the DPRK will work with Mr. Darusman, and recognize the benefits of cooperating with the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and thematic special rapporteurs,” King said. “The DPRK could use this opportunity to obtain valuable assistance from international human rights mechanisms. We urge the DPRK to allow the special rapporteur to visit the country and fulfill his mandate to observe and assess the human rights situation.”
He stressed the importance of resuming inter-Korean dialogue and the reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
“We appreciate the modest progress between DPRK officials and the American Red Cross on family reunions between Korean-Americans and family members in the DPRK, but we seek greater progress in this area,” King said.
Original article can be found here.
In the News – Kim Jong Nam Says N.Korean Regime Won’t Last Long
Former North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il’s eldest son Jong-nam has said the isolated regime will eventually fail with or without reforms. The comment appears in e-mail conversations exchanged over seven years between Kim Jong-nam and a Japanese journalist and obtained by the Monthly Chosun.
The nearly 100 e-mails were sent from 2004 until December last year to Yoji Komi, an editor at the Tokyo Shimbun daily. The two also spoke in person in January and May last year. Continue reading