One of North Korea's most-influential women is attracting a lot of attention -- which is exactly what Kim Jong Un wants

Pool/Getty ImagesHyon Song-wol, head of the North Korea’s Samjiyon Orchestra, leaves after checking venues at Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics at the Gangneung Art Center on January 21, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.
  • Hyon Song-wol is a popular former singer in North Korea and also one of the most powerful women in the country.
  • Hyon led North Korea’s delegation to South Korea over the weekend, garnering an outsized amount of attention.
  • This response might be falling into the trap of North Korean propaganda.

Hyon Song-wol is one of the most influential women in North Korea.

The former singer directs the pop group Moranbong Band and, as an alternate member of the Workers’ Party central committee, she is one of the most powerful people in North Korea.

She was also the leader of North Korea’s advance team that inspected South Korean performance venues over the weekend. And her presence sent some South Koreans, and international media outlets, into a flurry.

Crowds of people tried to take photos of Hyon, newspapers clamored to analyse her clothes (a dark coat with a “fur muffler”), and TV stations dutifully offered live broadcasts of her every move.

International media released profiles of Hyon describing her as a glamorous megastar who exuded “an air of confident calm,” a “beloved North Korean pop star,” and as someone trying to “emulate the style of Melania Trump.”

There were so many South Korean newspapers covering Hyon’s visit that one publication simply ran the headline: “Weekend news dominated by Hyon Song-wol.”

It’s likely that all this attention is exactly what North Korea was hoping for.

So far during Olympic preparation, North Korea has not only offered to send its highly political art and orchestra troupes to the South Korea Olympics, but suggested their members walk en masse across the Korean border. The coverage of these troupes, and the iconic photos they could offer, are excellent propaganda opportunities or “winning hearts at home and minds abroad,” according to Business Insider’s David Choi.

It’s a scenario that seems to have played out perfectly with Hyon over the weekend.

According to a Google search, more than 26,800 webpages referenced Hyon between Jan 20-22, local time.

This isn’t the first time Hyon has generated international intrigue or changed the conversation around North Korea.

When Hyon – who was thought to have been executed in 2013 – recently attended inter-Korean Olympic talks many focused on Hyon and her choice of handbag rather than missile launches.

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