North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has a new woman by his side - his former pop star lover - sparking speculation she has uprooted his sister while his wife also keeps a low profile.
Hyon Song-wol — the 43-year-old who fronts the Moranbong Band, which has been likened to the Spice Girls of the Hermit Kingdom — has apparently assumed some of the duties performed by Kim's powerful younger sister Kim Yo-Jong, the Times of London reports.
Kim Yo-Jong was expected to be next in line to succeed the supreme leader if he died or was too unwell after rising to prominence earlier this year.
But she has since reportedly been cast aside after it is thought she had propelled to political heights too quickly for some top officials' liking.
During the massive October 10 military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the Workers' Party of Korea, Kim's ex lover Hyon was seen guiding dignitaries to their seats, grabbing flowers handed to Kim and standing behind him as he addressed the masses.
It's a role usually performed by Kim's sister.
"A more negative theory is that Kim Jong-un is disappointed in his sister, whom he has relied on a lot emotionally. This would no doubt spell psychological trouble within the Kim family," South Korean journalist Wang Son-taek wrote on the NK News website, the Times reported.
"The positive theory is that the leader grew up and is becoming more independent than before.
"This would mean that Kim Yo Jong is now on the right track towards her own leadership-building path and is strongly supported by her brother."
Kim's wife Ri Sol-ju, 31, has also been out of sight since January, leading to speculation she could have had another child.
The couple are believed to have three children, with the youngest born in 2017, according to the South's intelligence service.
Despite the rotating female influences, there is no indication that any of the women are in peril, according to the Times, which noted that Kim's wife has vanished from public view before.
Hyong Song-wol, who has allegedly usurped Kim's sister, was rumoured to have been executed by firing squad in 2013 after a number of sex tapes of herself and other singers and dancers fell into circulation.
But she popped up the following year to give a speech at the national creative workers rally.
Hyong is thought to be married to a high-ranking official in the country, and the couple have one child.
However, the relationship is plagued by rumours Kim and Hyong are still secretly seeing each other.