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The wife of Kim Jong Un reappears after an unusual one-year absence.

Reuters, BLOOMBERG

The official Korean Central News Agency announced Wednesday that Ri Sol Ju joined her husband at a musical performance on the anniversary of the birth of former leader Kim Jong Il, known as Shining Star Day in North Korea.

The first public appearance in a year was made by the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, ending an unprecedented absence that fuelled speculation about her condition.

The official Korean Central News Agency announced Wednesday that Ri Sol Ju joined her husband at a musical performance to mark the anniversary of the birth of former leader Kim Jong Il, known as the Day of the Shining Star in North Korea.



As the General Secretary, together with his wife, Ri Sol Ju, came to the theater auditorium in the midst of the welcome music, all the participants burst into thunderous cheers of "As the General Secretary came to the auditorium of the theater together with his wife Ri Sol Ju amid the welcome music, all the participants burst into thunderous cheers of "," said KCNA.

They were treated to songs like "People Are of a Single Mind," and images of the couple were splashed on the front page of Rodong Sinmun, the state's biggest newspaper.

According to an NK News database search, her first mention of KCNA came in 2012, about half a year after her husband took over as the chief, and her name has appeared on the official news agency about 200 times since then. The year-long drought was by far the longest stretch in state media at that time that she had not appeared. No reason for her absence has been provided by North Korea.

"If her prolonged absence was due to concerns about the coronavirus, her reappearance could suggest increased regime confidence in the country's quarantine situation," said Rachel Minyoung Lee, an independent political analyst who used to work in North Korea-related areas for the U.S. government.


Kim Byung-kee, a ruling Democratic Party lawmaker, said after a meeting of a parliamentary intelligence committee that South Korea's spy agency told lawmakers Tuesday Ri may have been taking care of the couple's kids and avoiding public attention during the coronavirus pandemic.

The agency also said that Pfizer Inc. was hacked by North Korea for information about its Covid-19 vaccine and treatments. North Korea claims it has not had a single infection with the coronavirus, but the U.S., Japan, and others dispute the argument.

There was speculation inside North Korea that she may have gotten sick, taking care of a member of the Kim family who had gotten sick or staying at home to prepare her youngest daughter to start school, reported Daily NK, a Seoul-based website that collects information from informants within the isolated country.

In the highly classified state, the state of Kim's health and his family are among the most tightly guarded secrets, known only to a few people in Kim's inner circle.

Ri, a former singer who as a teenager served in a North Korean cheerleading squad, has appeared with her husband for a summit in China, where the couple sat down for a meal 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 Kim's family rule over the country.

South Korean intelligence said the two were married in 2009. They are thought to have three children, but their offspring are not officially listed. Dennis Rodman, the great out-of-the-box basketball who visited Kim in Korea, said he carried in his arms the leader's baby child, daughter Ju Ae, in 2013.




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