The wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made public appearances for the first time in a year, ending an unusual absence that sparked speculation about her condition.
Ri Sol Ju accompanied her husband to a musical performance marking the anniversary of the birth of former leader Kim Jong Il, known in North Korea as the Day of the Shining Star, the official Korean Central News Agency reported on Wednesday.
“When the General Secretary and his wife Ri Sol Ju came into the auditorium of the theater amid the welcoming music, all participants broke into thunderous cheers of” Hurray! “Off, KCNA said. They were treated to songs like” People Are of “a Single Mind,” and photos of the couple were splashed on the front page of the largest state newspaper – Rodong Sinmun.
Ri, who is believed to be 32 years old, could be due to the coronavirus that has virtually ended international visits and the need to appear by her husband’s side at events that are part of a normal nation’s statecraft, The special service NK News reported at the end of January.
Her first mention on KCNA came in 2012, about half a year after her husband took the lead, and her name has appeared on the official news agency about 200 times since then, according to a database search by NK News. The year-long drought was by far the longest stretch it hasn’t seen in state media during that time. North Korea has not given an explanation for their absence.
“If their prolonged absence was due to coronavirus concerns, their reappearance could spell increased regime confidence in the country’s quarantine situation,” said Rachel Minyoung Lee, an independent political analyst who previously worked for the US government in areas Had worked in connection with North Korea.
The South Korean spy agency told lawmakers Tuesday that Ri may have looked after the couple’s children and avoided public exposure during the coronavirus pandemic, Kim Byung-kee, a ruling Democratic Party lawmaker, said after a meeting of a parliamentary intelligence committee .
The agency also said North Korea hacked Pfizer Inc. to get information about its Covid-19 vaccine and treatments. North Korea says it hasn’t had a single coronavirus infection, but the claim that the US, Japan and others doubt it.
In North Korea, there was speculation that she might have gotten sick, looked after a member of the Kim family who got sick, or stayed home to prepare her youngest daughter for school, Daily NK, a Seoul-based website On which information is gathered from informants within the isolated nation, reports.
The health of Kim and his family are among the best kept secrets in the highly secretive state known only to a few people in Kim’s inner circle.
Ri, a former singer who served on a North Korean cheerleading team as a teenager, appeared with her husband for a summit in China where the couple sat for dinner with President Xi Jinping and his wife. Ri also joined Kim as they rode horses through the snow on North Korea’s Mount Paektu, the symbolic seat of the Kim family’s rule over the land.
South Korean intelligence said the two married in 2009. They are believed to have three children, but there is no official mention of their offspring. Dennis Rodman, the unusual basketball star who visited Kim in North Korea, said in 2013 that he was holding the leader’s baby, a daughter named Ju Ae.
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