N. Korea’s first female supersonic jet pilot dies in accident

Air force officials are still investigating the accident, which may explain why her death hasn't been announced publicly

female pilot
Kim Jong Un took a photograph with female pilots Rim Sol and Jo Kum Hyang in 2014. / Image: Rodong Shinmun

Rim Sol, North Korea’s first female supersonic jet pilot, died during a training accident in mid-November, Daily NK learned on Monday.

The North Korean air force has launched an investigation into the cause of the crash, but no details have been disclosed. Daily NK sources said that North Korea has not officially announced the jet pilot’s death and that only officials in the country’s air force have been informed. 

Rim Sol, along with jet pilot Jo Kum Hyang, had performed demonstration flights for Kim Jong Un in 2014 and 2015. Jo, who was given the nickname “Phoenix” by Kim, was covered extensively by North Korea propaganda outlets at the time. 

Meeting with the two pilots, Kim said at the time that, “I gave orders to train female fighter pilots only a few months ago, so seeing the excellently developed [sic] female pilots training today gives me great satisfaction and joy.”

After taking photographs with the two jet pilots, Kim sent the Korean People’s Army’s (KPA) air force commander to the parents of the two pilots to congratulate them on their children. 


Upon receiving news of Rim’s death, Kim said that he was “deeply pained” to have lost his favorite pilot, sources told Daily NK. 

Kim has reportedly ordered Rim’s body to be buried in the Patriotic Martyrs’ cemetery to honor her patriotism and accomplishments, sources added.

“Rim Sol’s death has inspired a slogan within the air force: ‘Let us learn from Rim Sol, who sacrificed her youth to immortalize a do-or-die attitude and an indomitable revolutionary spirit,’” one of the sources told Daily NK. 

Rim’s family was given a luxurious apartment in Pyongyang, and received a special supply of goods and provisions, the sources added. 

One source suggested that North Korea has not officially announced Rim’s death because “they have not yet identified the cause of the accident” and may “need time to properly prepare propaganda materials about her.” 

North Korean authorities are likely to make Rim’s death public and begin the process of eulogizing her memory once this process is complete, he added.

*Translated by Violet Kim

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.