ScreenHunter_302 Dec. 14 18.36

South Korea’s Yonhap News has published a photograph that appears to show North Korean singer Hyon Sung-wul—long rumored executed at dictator Kim Jong-un’s behest—alive and well in China 

In Japan, there are girl idol bands. In America, there are sexy solo entertainers/cultural icons like Beyoncé. In North Korea, it seems, there are sexy propaganda bands. Only sexy propaganda bands.

One such band was (is?) led by sexy, rumored former girlfriend of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and rumored recently executed singer, Hyon Song-wul.

Hyon’s whereabouts had been in question since 2013, when South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, apparently with close ties to the South Korean intelligence community, reported that Hyon had been caught “creating and distributing” pornographic materials and was summarily executed by firing squad along with several others.

Recently, though, Yonhap News, South Korea’s foremost paper, published a story with accompanying photo declaring that not only is Hyon alive and well, she’s milling around in China on some kind of “friendship tour” with other members of her all-girl propaganda band. The paper, however, added that Hyon was coy when asked about the execution rumors, apparently asking one reporter in response, “Where do you come from?” before scurrying off.

It seems that outside of, you know, those dictators and possibly Dennis Rodman, Hyon Song-wul is the closest thing North Korea has to some kind of living national treasure, so it would seem to make at least some kind of sense that Kim Jong-un might be reluctant to execute her—porno distribution rumors or no—so that he might later parade her around to other countries he might hope to ally with, with is apparently the aim of the China “friendship tour.”

When spotted by press members in China, Hyon supposedly also refused to reveal what exactly she and her band would be performing during the three day tour, but we hope it includes her North Korean pop cultural hit, “Excellent Horse-like Lady.”

It’s important to note here, though, that a lot of information that comes out of—or is about—North Korea is exaggerated, and sometimes is even pulled out of thin air according to the whims of how much hard-ass posturing Kim Jong-un feels like doing or how hungry for clicks news outlets are. (Don’t you point at us! For shame!) It seems likely that rumors of Hyon’s execution were unfounded despite their wide circulation in respectable media, but it’s also entirely in the realm of possibility that Kim just sent some kind of body double to squelch rumors, or even a shapeshifting unicorn from the country’s infamous unicorn lair.

Source: Yonhap News
Image: Yonhap news via Jonathan Cheng