Hyon Song-wol has been the subject of fevered speculation for years over her reported execution, but pictures reveal Kim’s ex-lover being greeted by a barrage of camera flashes in Seoul.
Kim hand-picked the quasi diplomat to cross the heavily fortified border into South Korea to check preparations of an art troupe she also leads during next month’s Winter Olympics.
Considered to be a move to charm South Korean officials, the singer was found attending talks at the border which struck a deal on the art troupe’s two performances – one in Seoul and the other in Gangneung.
Meanwhile, Seoul welcomed confirmation by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that 22 North Korean athletes would compete in the February 9 Olympics, saying it would aid peace and the easing of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
South Korea’s presidential Blur House said in a statement: “North Korea’s participation in the Olympics will be a catalyst for building peace and easing tensions on the Korean peninsula.”
The seven member North Korean delegation, led by musician Hyon Song-wol, will check venues for performances by a 140-strong art troupe at the Olympics.
The officials will spend two days inspecting art centres which will also host several of the Olympic events.
Hyon, the head of the Moranbong Band, was feared dead after her on-again-off-again relationship with the chubby dictator broke down, first during the mid-2000s and then again in 2012.
A South Korean intelligence official told the JoongAng Daily in Seoul at the time: “The two have known each other since they were in their teens and rumours about the two having an affair have been circulating among Pyongyang’s top elite.”
A year after performing at an event in Pyongyang to mark International Women’s Day in 2012, she was reported to be among a dozen well-known North Korean performers who were executed by a firing squad.
But in 2014 Hyon later appeared in public wearing an army colonel’s insignia, and thanked Kim for his “heavenly trust and warm care” in promoting the arts.
In October, Hyon was elected to the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee as an alternate member, according to reports.