North Korea: Excellent Horse-Like (Dead) Lady

THE SEQUEL to the “Excellent Horse-Like Lady” phenomenon in North Korea that we covered last year played out last week, with reports that the singer, and mistress of dictator Kim Jong-Un, was executed last week for filming a sex tape. It’s a troubling reflection on the North Korean junta.

I’m not going to spend long on this issue, but in light of the fact I poked fun at the North Korean smash hit “Excellent Horse-Like Lady” last year in this column I think it only right to appraise readers of the unfortunate ending the whole episode has met.

Reports around the world indicate that the lead singer of the band that recorded the song, Hyon Song-wol, has been executed, along with several associates, for apparently making a video of themselves having sex with each other and selling it.

This comprehensive report — from The Telegraph in the UK — is reflective of the information becoming available through news multiple channels.

The “crime” is puzzling from a uniquely North Korean perspective, as pornography and smut are commodities that are not just legal in North Korea, but extremely and openly popular with its citizens.

It is perhaps a reflection on the peccadilloes of members of the North Korean junta that an otherwise brutally hardline regime would tolerate something that is, typically, one of the first things censored out of existence and driven underground in such societies.

Even so, the brutal nature of the execution — Hyon was reportedly killed by rounds of machine gun fire; a previous execution was enacted using a mortar round — underlines the nihilistic violence that passes as everyday government business in this most repressed of states.

For those unfamiliar with the “Excellent Horse-Like Lady” story from its original run last July, the link I’ve posted to my article at the time, at the top of this one, is worth visiting (as is the “music” video I have linked that earlier article with as well).

But rather than laughing, this time I’m shaking my head…

It could only happen in North Korea.

Excellent Horse-Like Lady: A North Korean Joke

Readers will know North Korea and its loathsome junta have periodically elicited a thumping from The Red And The Blue, and not least on the occasion of “Dear” Leader Kim Jong-Il’s death; North Korea is again in our sights, but this time merely to encourage others to laugh at it.

An article in The Age today appears to profile what seems to be North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s girlfriend, Hyon Song-wol; the pair have frequently been seen together  of recent times, and are widely reported as having resumed their relationship.

Ms Hyon, it seems, was the girlfriend of Kim when the pair were adolescents; more recently, she is apparently the singer in pop outfit Bochonbo Electronic Music Band, a North Korean group charting hits based on patriotic fervour.

It speaks volumes that an insular, paranoid and rigidly Stalinist society like North Korea could produce a pop band achieving wild popularity with hits of such calibre as I Love Pyongyang and She Is A Discharged Soldier; my own personal favourite — coincidentally, the band’s and Ms Hyon’s biggest hit — is the delightfully named Excellent Horse-Like Lady.

You can view the official music video for Excellent Horse-Like Lady here. It’s special.

Never mind that the lyrics are unintelligible to all beyond Korea, and never mind that this looks like the video prompt at a suburban karaoke bar.

The fact remains that all the key DPRK themes are there: women working in factories, workers happy and joyous in their servitude, images of Pyongyang so photoshopped as to almost look inviting, and lots of flowers — there always has to be lots of flowers in video propaganda made by totalitarian dictatorships.

If only fame and stardom were so simple, and such elementary ditties the ticket to Easy Street; were it so, Australia would be a nation of Popstars, and I use the term with some relish and a little glee.

Worthy of less mirth and more concern is the glimpse these developments, and the history behind them, give of the operational methods of the ruling junta in North Korea and the tactics they appear to suggest.

Kim’s relationship with Ms Hyon apparently met with an involuntary end several years ago, as Jong-Un became the obvious heir-designate to his father, Kim Jong-Il; in the intervening period Hyon married and had a child with another man. The present whereabouts and status of her husband and child are unknown.

It tends so suggest a lot about what represents acceptable and accepted social standards in North Korea, or at least where the ruling elite is concerned; that the leadership may exercise that degree of control and interference in the personal lives of its citizens despite the rhetoric about socialist utopia, and that its citizens may simply “disappear” for no better reason than the romantic whims of its “Brilliant Leader.”

Even so, whilst North Korea is in many ways an international laughing-stock, seldom does such an opportunity as Excellent Horse-Like Lady come along to provide the opportunity to simply laugh at North Korea and the fatuous, ridiculous, disingenuous popular and social culture its evil communist masters have propagated.

And I’m certain that no horses, real or imagined, were involved in the conception or the production of this peculiar piece of entertainment.

For mine, I think I’ll head down to JB Hi-Fi on the weekend and see if I can buy a copy on CD. I know my wife will kill me if I find it; she doesn’t see the funny side of these little impulse purchases.

And if that doesn’t work, there are plenty of friendly Korean karaoke bars in Melbourne…but then again, these are run by Koreans from the South, where the sun rises in the east and the Earth is round, so maybe the YouTube clip I found for it will just have to suffice.

Excellent Horse-Like Lady indeed…good Lord…