After speculation regarding the "mystery woman" seen in recent pictures with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, state TV reports have confirmed that the woman is Kim's wife, "comrade Ri Sol Ju." While state media has announced Ri's identity, it has released no other details about Ri or her marriage with Kim, including when the two wed.
The announcement came in a state TV report about Kim's visit to a North Korean amusement park.
Kim has reportedly been seen with Ri at various events over the past seven months of his rule. The pair has been spotted at a concert and a visit to a kindergarten. North Korean state media made no mention of Ri for months after she began appearing in photos, fostering uncertainty about her identity in South Korea and the outside world.
North Korea's public acknowledgement of Ri may be a sign that that Kim Jong Un will be moving away from his father's style of leadership. Personal details about Kim Jong Il were rarely released, allowing him to be deified among the North Korean populace.
In a comment to the Washington Post, North Korea expert Lim Eul-chul explained, "Kim Jong Un is breaking with his father's secrecy-shrouded leadership. The revelation of his wife is a sign that Kim wants to show a more open leadership." Lim teaches at South Korea's Kyungnam University.
Kim Jong Un assumed control of North Korea after his father, Kim Jong Il died in late December 2011. Kim Jong Il ruled the country for 17 years in a secrecy-shrouded regime. Under his father's rule, Kim Jong Un's existence was barely acknowledged to the Western world until serious concerns were raised about Kim Jong Il's health.