Mr Kim ordered the group of women that was hand-picked by authorities loyal to his father and predecessor, Kim Jong-il, to be disbanded shortly after his death in December 2011, according to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper. He has now decided, however, to resurrect a source of entertainment that has become a tradition for North Korean leaders.
“After he came to power, Mr Kim trusted no-one and ordered thorough investigations into every official in the regime, from the highest to the lowest”, Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo’s Waseda University and an authority on North Korean affairs, told The Telegraph.
With that process now completed, as well as the conclusion of the three-year official mourning period after the death of Kim Jong-il, the new North Korean dictator is free to select a new generation of female companions, Prof. Shigemura said.
“The women who entertained his father knew many secrets and they have now been ordered to promise not to reveal any information before being sent back to their home towns”, Prof Shigemura said.
The women who were employed as entertainers were given pay-offs of $4,000 – a huge sum in impoverished North Korea – and home appliances. Women who were employed as maids and cleaners at Kim Jong-il’s palaces received about half that amount, the Chosun Ilbo reported.
With the departure of the “old guard” of entertainers, Mr Kim, “Can have a new entertainment group who only have loyalty to him”, Prof Shigemura added.
“Pleasure troupes” were initially introduced by Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea and still revered as the nation’s Eternal President.
Often as young as 13 or 14, the recruiters would tell their parents that their daughters were being taken away on a government mission to serve the nation’s leader. As with everything in North Korean society, the parents had no say in the matter, even if they did have suspicions over what was really happening to their daughters.
Stationed at the leaders’ mansions, the women were available whenever they were required. Many “retired” while still in their 20s and were married off to military officers looking for brides.
“This has been going on under three generations of the Kim family ruling North Korea and it has become a tradition that is also a demonstration of the leader’s power over the people and his sexual power,” Prof. Shigemura said.
Mr Kim married Ri Sol-ju, a former singer with the Unhasu Orchestra, in 2013 and the couple has a daughter.