The Moranbong Band perform at a concert in Pyongyang on July 28, 2012. (Internet photo)
North Korea's first lady, Ri Sol-ju, has banished a young pop star to a prison camp for stealing the affections of her husband and supreme leader Kim Jong-un, according to a group of defected North Korean intellectuals.
The defector-run website North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity claims that Ri, 24, felt threatened when she discovered that her husband "had feelings" for Ryu Jin-a, one of the lead singers of Moranbong Band, North Korea's first ever all-female band.
All 18 members of the group are graduates of the Pyongyang Kim Won Gyun Conservatory and were said to have been personally selected by Kim in 2012. Ryu is the youngest member of the band and last July became its first to be bestowed a meritorious entertainer award by Kim.
After learning of Kim's feelings, Ri sent Ryu to the Hoeryong concentration camp in North Hamgyong province for five years on a trumped-up charge, according to the website. While the prison does not handle prisoners serving life sentences, the report said that Ri intends to add to Ryu's sentence before the current one is up.
The Washington-based Radio Free Asia reported in February that Ryu was actually a former colleague of Ri and was purged because she had been in a romantic relationship with former North Korea No. 2 Jang Sung-taek, who was executed by Kim at the end of last year for treason.