North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is hopping mad over news reports that he ordered a group of celebrities to be put to death last month because they made a sex tape with his wife, a former singer.
Decrying the “reptile media” of South Korea, the Korean Central News Agency called the reports, “unpardonable hideous provocation hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership.”
The KCNA, North Korea’s state-run media operation that functions as a propaganda arm of and mouthpiece for the Kim regime, went on to issue a veiled threat. "Those who commit such a hideous crime,” it said, referring to journalists who published the reports, “will have to pay a very high price."
North Korea is largely isolated from the rest of the world, so figuring out what is going on there is extremely difficult if not impossible, experts say. The wall of silence gives rise to rumors and innuendo that, in the absence of any way to confirm or deny them, often end up printed as fact in the South Korean and Japanese press -- and picked up in the rest of the world.
"This stuff gets planted regularly in media outlets and then quickly goes viral," John Delury, an expert on the North at at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, told The Guardian newspaper. "There's a global appetite for any North Korea story and the more salacious the better. The normal standards of journalism are thrown out of the window.”
Jiro Ishimaru, editor of the Japan-based Asia Press, said that he has confirmed that there was a mass execution in the North on August 20. The victims were said to be celebrities, one of them a former girlfriend of the dictator, Kim.
But there are also reports that the woman has been seen alive since then.
Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported this past weekend that the execution targeted members of the musical group Unhasu Orchestra. The North Korean first lady, Ri Sol-ju (pictured, with Kim), was a singer with the group.
The Asahi said that members of the group filmed themselves engaged in sex acts, and Ri was one of those filmed. North Korea’s leader ordered the group members killed to prevent the titillating details of his wife’s wild past from becoming public, according to the story.
But the North Korean news agency condemned the Asahi story as “a whole string of sophism intended to hatch all sorts of dastardly wicked plots and float misinformation".
SOURCES: The Guardian, ITV News, Fox News