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Why Kim Jong-un's wife has not been seen for months

There are rumours the wife of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un could have just given birth after she disappeared from public eye for four months.

Last week Ri Sol Ju made an appearance alongside her husband at the Mount Kumgang tourist complex, a flagship development with the South, as he dubbed it an eyesore and ordered buildings there be demolished, state media reported.

Pictures from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) show Ri accompanying Kim, her first public appearance since Chinese President Xi Jingping visited Pyongyang four months ago.

While there is no indication Ri and Kim were expecting a child in the recent pictures, there are suggestions she may have given birth to a North Korean heir already, hence being absent for some months.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol Ju sit on the side of a hot springs pool surrounded by military in Yangdok.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol Ju visit the Yangdok County Hot Spring Resort. Source: Reuters via KCNA

A North Korean expert from Myanmar, Markus Bell, told The Sun if the family did introduce a new member it would ideally be a boy to take over Kim’s reign in the future.

“The secrecy surrounding reports of Ri’s pregnancy is nothing surprising for North Korea,” he said.

“One thing’s for sure, Kim and Ri will be keeping their fingers crossed for a boy this time – a future supreme leader to hand over the reins to in years to come.”

Little is known about Ri, who is believed to be 30 and to have three children with Kim, at least one of them a daughter.

Ri, a former star singer, emerged in 2012 and has been regarded as one of the most high-profile women in the isolated, deeply patriarchal nation, but with a limited role as Kim's stylish, coy wife.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's wife Ri Sol Ju is seen at Peace House of the border village of Panmunjom, South Korea. Source: AP
It is believed Ri Sol Ju may have stepped away from the public eye due to a pregnancy. Source: AP

In April last year she was given the title of First Lady after previously being referred to as “comrade” by the North’s state media.

Analysts said at the time her promotion was likely to be part of an effort to paint North Korea as a "normal state" as it prepared for summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump.

It is not the first time Ri has disappeared from the public eye.

The International Business Times reported in 2016 she made her first public appearance after vanishing for seven months.

That absence also drew pregnancy speculation while others suggested she and the dictator had a falling out.

With AFP

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