The leader of North Korea's famous Moranbong girl band and rumored former girlfriend of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was among North Korean officials who met their South Korean counterparts on the border Monday.
The two sides met in the truce village of Panmunjom to discuss details of the North's participation in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, which will involve a vast contingent of cheerleaders for a tiny group of athletes.
Hyon Song-wol appears to be a powerful figure in her own right and apparently still enjoys the trust of her ex-boyfriend.
Hyon attended the talks in a blue formal dress with a badge bearing the portraits of North Korean nation founder Kim Il-sung and former leader Kim Jong-il. She greeted the South Korean delegates with a smile.
One Unification Ministry official who was there said, "I could feel an air of composure and confidence." Another South Korean delegate said North Korea's chief delegate Kwon Hyok-bong and Hyon "spoke almost equally" -- a noteworthy detail in obsessively hierarchical North Korea.
There was speculation that Hyon's clutch bag was a Hermes product costing W25 million, but others said it was knock-off (US$1=W1,064).
A former vocalist for the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble, which is famous for revolutionary songs and one of North Korea's most popular bands under Kim Jong-il, Hyon has long been rumored to have been Kim Jong-un's lover.
She was promoted to the Central Committee of the Workers Party last year.
She apparently impressed Kim in 2015, when she abruptly canceled a performance by the band in Beijing just four hours before it was to start and flew back to North Korea, protesting against Chinese officials who demanded a change to the repertoire and objected to projections of a missile launch on the backdrop.
But there was no mention of the band in the agreement between the two sides. Instead, the 140-member Samjiyon Orchestra is to perform in Seoul and Gangneung.
The South informed the North that folk songs or classical music will be acceptable but not propaganda songs, while the North said it would compile a repertoire "befitting the atmosphere of unification."
Hyon Song-wol, the leader of North Korea's Morangbong troupe, arrives at the truce village of Panmunjom in Paju, Gyeonggi Province on Monday with her clutch bag (in a red circle). /Yonhap