The absence of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s wife from public view for more than a month has fueled speculation about her relationship with the regime and the state of her well being.
After the North Korean government confirmed that Ri Sol-ju was Kim Jong-un’s wife in July, she began making more frequent appearances by her husband’s side.
The young woman, believed to be in her mid- to late-twenties, is known for wearing Western-style dress, carrying designer handbags and eschewing the traditional lapel pin with the face of venerated leader Kim Il-sung for floral brooches when attending formal events -- a major faux pas within North Korea’s socialist regime.
According to North Korea News, Ri’s absence has been noted for 40 days, leading some to believe that she may have irked old guard members of the Workers’ Party leadership with her unconventional style of dress and lack of outwardly displayed patriotism, possibly resulting in her being barred from making public appearances.
A less sensational theory is that Ri may be pregnant and has opted to stay out of the public eye, not uncommon for the family members of top party leaders who are closely guarded about their personal lives. If confirmed, which is not likely for some time, this could possibly be the couple’s second child, though the first child’s existence also remains unconfirmed, according to Chosun news agency.
Ryan Villarreal reports on foreign affairs with a focus on Latin America. He also covers human rights and environmental issues worldwide....