The North Korean authorities are recalling CDs featuring songs sung by Ri Sol Joo, the country’s so-called ‘first lady’, over fears that information about Ri’s past could hinder efforts to forge her current image.
According to information received by Daily NK on the 18th, the authorities first ordered state agencies, enterprises and people’s units to turn in recordings of Kim Jong Eun’s wife Ri back in July, but that attempt was not completely successful so groups have now been sent out by the Party Propaganda and Agitation Department to finish the task.
A source explained, “They are going out into every area of Pyongyang to collect every CD that contains a recording of Ri Sol Joo. It’s causing a bit of a commotion in the markets.”
The source explained that there are three publicly available songs sung by Ri, all of which are being recalled. In particular, one called ‘Sobaeksu’ earned her a place on the CD cover. According to the source, “Her face is on CDs containing ‘Sobaeksu’, which caused people to realize that what are being collected are recordings of her songs.”
The existence of an order to the same effect was confirmed by a source from North Pyongan Province, who told Daily NK, “The order to hand in all CDs containing songs sung by Ri Sol Joo was handed down right after Kim Jong Eun became a KPA Marshal. They didn’t say why, they just said ‘It’s an order from the Central Party so just do it.’”
The policy is likely a result of concerns that knowledge of Ri’s background as a singer might undermine efforts to paint her as a wife with deep-seated concern for the wellbeing of the North Korean people.
However, it is becoming increasingly hard to control flows of information in modern North Korea. As the source noted, “A lot of people already know that she was a solo singer with the Unhasu Orchestra.”