|Sung Hye Lim(Left) & Koh Young Hee(Right)|
Kim Jong Il has respectively lived for a long time with Sung Hye Lim, an actress, and Koh Young Hee, a member of Mansudae dance troupe. Kim began to live with Sung Hye Lim in 1968 and left her when she had to be treated in Moscow for a nervous breakdown.
Kim stayed with Koh Young Hee from 1975 until she died in 2004. It is certain that Kim has lived with a number of other mistresses during the periods of both relationships with Sung Hye Lim and Koh Young Hee.
However, Sung Hye Lim and Koh Young Hee were the only two women who had lived with Kim so long and have had his children. Both women are dead now.
Sung Hye Lang, Sung Hye Lim’s sister, says,
“Kim might have felt some kind of motherly affection from Sung Hye Lim as he had been growing up without the presence of his father, who was staying with his stepmother in the period. Sung Hye Lim was tall with round shoulders and a beautifully straightened nose, which, as well as her nice lips, made directors take shots of her face very often from the side angles.”(Sung Hye Lang, ‘Cane house’)
Before Sung Hye Lim becomes Kim’s first mistress, she has been highly famous in North Korean society as a beautiful and well-educated actress. Even though Kim is known to have numerous relationships until his late twenties, Sung Hye Lim becomes his first love after all.
Sung Hye Lim, Three years older than Kim
Sung Hye Lim, born in South Korea is the second child of a distinguished family, whose father is the only son of his family for the third generation, and whose mother works a journalist in the 1920s, working for Gebyuk magazine. Before graduating from the Pungmung middle school, Sung Hye Lim has to move to North Korea with her family due to the outbreak of the Korean War. At the age of nineteen, after graduation from Pyongyang Art Institute, Sung Hye Lim marries Lee Pyong, the oldest son of Lee Ki Young, chairman of North Korean Writers Committee.
Sung Hye Lim and Lee Pyong give birth to a girl named Ok-dol. While married, Sung Hye Lim graduates with a bachelor’s degree of film production from a university of drama and film. Since her first role in an art film ‘the border village’, Sung Hye Lim continues to be successful and, finally, becomes the best actress in North Korea. However, despite the popularity, Sung Hye Lim is unable to get promoted or to become a member of the communist party, due to her family background inappropriate to the communist regulations. In the late 60’s, Kim, as the son of the dictator, often visits the film studio, supervising the process of production, where Sung Hye Lim, as already a veteran actress, works and first captures his eye in person.
Sung Hye Lim is an ideal woman, who reminds of the affectionate biological mother Kim lost in his early childhood. In addition, Sung Hye Lim is so knowledgeable about film that Kim, who is a movies fanatic, enjoys talking with her about film-related issues all day.
As a result, Kim deeply falls in love and decides to let Sung Hye Lim move in to live with. And, Kim also knows that he can face risks of being criticized for having an affair with a married woman by his stepmother, as a political feud.
“Sung Hye Lim followed Kim’s proposition, as the authority of the ruling dictator’s son, in order to save her family members from their troubled political situations. But, the relationship was not all about passive acceptance. Both of them, as a matter of fact, fit each another very well. If they had been a normally married couple, it could have been a great match. They seemed to be so happily close friends, sharing common interests with the same artistic sense.”(Sung Hye Lang, ‘Cane house’)
Kim Jong Nam. Hidden son of Sung Hye Lim
Sung Hye Lim ends up having a divorce with Lee Pyong after the production of ‘A member of the self-defense force’. It is assumed that Sung Hye Lim stays away from acting, going along with Kim, in 1968. Sung Hye Lim and Kim begin to live together in 1969. And, because of Sung Hye Lim’s pregnancy in 1970, they both move to the Jungsungdong residence, in which she gives birth to Kim Jong-nam in 1971. The relationship is so tightly kept in secret, that it is also strictly prohibited to address the birth of the baby. Because Kim Jong-nam and Sung Hye Lim, as the mistress of Kim, are not to be seen in the public by any possible means, they have to be kept away at all times. In other words, they live behind bars in a prison palace.
Kim ends up getting married to Kim Young Suk in 1974, pressured by his father, Kim, Il-sung. Then, in 1976, Kim moves in with another mistress, Koh Young Hee. Though, Kim remains concerned about Sung Hye Lim and Kim Jong Nam. So, Kim Kyung Hee, Kim’s younger sister who notices his concerns, visits to see Sung Hye Lim and directly says to her, “As you have already been married to your husband with a child, and you are older than my brother, you do not deserve to stay at the residence. I will take Kim Jong Nam, and you must leave. You will be taken care of for the rest of your life as I personally guarantee.” Because of extreme concerns Sung Hye Lim has about loosing Kim Jong Nam and getting expelled after the incident with Kim Kyung Hee, her health begins to deteriorate, suffering from nervous breakdown and anxiety disorder. As it becomes worse even with depression, Sung Hye Lim visits Moscow often for her treatment in 1974.
Sung Hye Lim dies in Moscow 2002
In the late 70’s, Sung Hye Lim’s illness becomes so worse that she has to call the ambulance every night to take heavy doses of injections for insomnia. Nevertheless, she continues being unable to fall asleep and even suffers a fit of anxiety. Sung Hye Lim’s sufferings become as severe as unbearable to watch. As time goes by, Sung Hye Lim stays in Moscow longer for the treatment and visits Pyongyang only several times a year. After all the sufferings, Sung Hye Lim dies in Moscow in 2002.
As Kim Jong Il’s second mistress, Koh Young Hee is known to be born in 1952. Koh Young Hee is originally a dancer and catches Kim Jong Il’s eye, working as a member of the national dance company, as known in South Korea as the cheerleading squad. Kim makes Koh Young Hee live with him in 1979. Koh Young Hee is known to resemble Yoshinaga Sayuri, a Japanese actress, whom Kim has described as the most beautiful.
As a member of Mansudae artistic troupe, Koh Young Hee becomes popular, performing on a tour in Japan. In 1975, Koh Young Hee, 23 years old, attends the secret parties(see in the third edition), in which she sits right next to ‘the dictator’s son, Kim Jong Il as his regular partner. In 1977, rather than having to attend those secret parties, Koh Young Hee begins going out with Kim, driving and listening to South Korean music all night in his Mercedes-benz.
Koh Young Hee stays at the Changkwangsan residence and gives birth to a son, Kim Jong Chul, in 1981. The name, Jong Chul, is given by his grandmother, Kim Won Joo, who is the mother of Sung Hye Lim. One day, Kim Jong Il asks Kim Won Joo to choose a name for the new son as an alternative of the name of the oldest son, Jong Nam. That is how Kim Won Joo picks ‘Jong Chul’. In 1983, Koh Young Hee gives birth to Jong Chul’s brother, Jong Un. As soon as second son, Jong Un, is born, Kim turns his paternal love from Jong Nam to Jong Chul and Jong Un.
Koh Young Hee as role of legitimate wife
Koh Young Hee’s father is former Korean Japanese, Koh Tae Mun, who is the founder of North Korean judo. In North Korea, it is a well known statement among people that ‘North Korean judo starts from Koh Tae Mun.’ Koh Tae Mun has a family with a son and a daughter. And, his only daughter, Koh Young Hee, becomes Kim Jong-il’s partner to live at Kim’s residence.
In North Korea, local people call the former Korean Japanese by ‘Jaepo’. The word ‘Jaepo’ is a slang as well as an abbreviation for ‘Korean resident in Japan’, which is the local pronunciation of ‘Korean Japanese’. The former Korean Japanese are disadvantaged both socially and politically. By the human resource policy of the Communist party, all the ‘Jaepo’ cannot be accepted in certain work categories, such as membership of the Communist party, the public departments of law and diplomacy or employment of the shipping and aviation industries. Also, they cannot be promoted to become officers in the military. The percentage of the highest limit, which allows the former Korean Japanese to be deployed at each military branch, is only 1.5 percent. As a result, most of the former Korean Japanese mainly apply for the areas of business, engineering, sports and art. Koh Young Hee, also as a Korean Japanese herself, is influenced by the policy and becomes a member of Mansudae artistic troupe.
Fujimoto Kenji, former Kim Jong Il’s cook, says, “Koh Young Hee seemed relatively bright and polite with much perseverance. Kim trusted Koh Young Hee so much that by Kim’s permission, she was able to travel to Europe and Tokyo Disneyland with her children. Living at Changkwangsan residence, Koh Young Hee, in fact, acted as legitimate wife, accompanying Kim Jong Il to every destination at all times.”
The private life of Kim Jong Il yet to be unveiled. The testimony of Fujimoto Kenji is almost the only information available on the relationship between Kim Jong Il and Koh Young Hee. It is known that Koh Young Hee comes back to North Korea and dies at age 54 after her breast cancer treatment in France in August 2004. Koh Young Hee’s death, also, has never been announced in North Korea.