A N.Korean life shattered by Kim Jong-il's secret
By Jon Herskovitz and Christine Kim
SEOUL (Reuters Life!) - Kim Young-soon was a celebrated dancer who moved among North Korea's elite before she was sent to prison for nine years. Her crime? Knowing a secret about the private life of heir apparent Kim Jong-il.
It was the secret of an affair Kim Jong-il began in the 1960s with a married actress that he wanted kept from his father and founder of North Korea's ruling dynasty, Kim Il-sung, which even now is so sensitive it remains air-brushed from the reclusive state's official history.
Kim Jong-il would eventually father a son with the actress, a star of her time called Sung Hye-rim, or Song Hye-rim, who died in exile in Russia in 2002.
"I have lived a life that cannot be told without tears," Kim Young-soon, 72, told Reuters in Seoul, where she now works as a dance instructor after escaping to South Korea in 2003. "This is just the frightening way in which North Korea works."
Much of the story of Kim Young-soon, whose book "I was Sung Hye-rim's Friend" was published two years ago, have been verified by North Korean defectors, including former high-ranking officials in the secretive state.
Intelligence sources have also verified reports of Kim Jong-il's liaisons with Sung, whom is believed to have been one of his wives and the mother of Kim Jong-nam, who was born in 1971.
Sung, a school friend of Kim Young-soon, was one of the country's first big movie stars, with legions of fans including film buff Kim Jong-il.
Kim Young-soon was herself a well-known dancer who met the leader and his son at performances. Her family lived among the elite and her brother was a general who had helped capture Seoul in the early stages of the 1950-53 Korean War. Continued...