Kim Jong Un and wife Ri Sol Ju watch North Korean military parade on eve of Winter Games

Troops, missiles and tanks rolled into North Korea’s historic Kim Il Sung Square Thursday in a highly anticipated parade of military might on the eve of South Korea’s Winter Olympics. The choreographed display involved hundreds of soldiers marching in unison, planes soaring above and four of Pyongyang’s newest and most sophisticated missile, the Hwasong-15. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watched all of it from a balcony above.

The parade is being held to mark the day Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, formed the Korean People’s Army, and came as celebrations started in the South for the Games in the resort city of Pyeongchang.

Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, arrived by limousine and stepped out onto a red carpet.

Kim declared that the military parade would show to the world that North Korea” has developed into a world-class military power. As long as imperialism is present on the Earth and US’s hostile policy against North Korea continues, the mission of the Korea People’s Army to be the strong sword that protects the country and people, and peace can never change.”

[CNN]

North Korea’s Olympic charm offensive

North Korean defectors, who fled their impoverished and repressive homeland, are voicing concern that the North’s Olympic delegation featuring its “army of beauties” will score deceptive propaganda points, but they also hold out hope that inter-Korean cooperation can create an opportunity for peaceful progress.

A 230 member all female cheerleading squad, often called the “army of beauties,” will be among the large North Korean Olympic delegation planning to visit South Korea for the PyeongChang Olympics in February.

“It will garner the spotlight, and as each of its actions can become an opportunity to promote North Korea, I consider this as a political move,” said Kim Chul-woong, who was a pianist with Pyongyang University of Music and Dance, before defecting in 2002.

The cheering squad is made up of attractive and relatively tall women (over 160cm,) who were selected from elite universities and have no relatives living abroad. Perhaps the most famous former cheering squad member is Ri Sol Ju, the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. At the age of 16 she participated in the 2005 Asian Athletic Championships in South Korea.

The women cheerleaders also undergo extensive ideological education to ensure loyalty to the state and to the leadership of the Kim family. “Leaving North Korea and visiting overseas is like going to fight in the heart of the enemy,” said North Korean defector Han Seo-hee. Han can also testify that the state’s ideological training is not always effective, as she was actually a North Korean cheerleader for the 2002 Asian Games held in Busan, South Korea, before she defected.

[VoA]

Kim Jong Un’s third child born February 2017

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has a third child, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) has learned.

Kim Jong Un’s wife, Ri Sol Ju, is believed to have given birth in February. “The gender of their new child is unknown,” a South Korean lawmaker said.

Little is known about the North Korean first family, but opposition lawmaker Yi Wan-yong confirmed “Kim’s first child is a son [born in 2010] and the second child is a daughter [born in 2013],” noting he learned this information from non-NIS sources.

In 2013, former NBA star Dennis Rodman revealed the name and gender of one of Kim and Ri’s children, a daughter called Ju Ae. “I held their baby Ju Ae and spoke with Ms. Ri as well,” he said, describing Kim as “a good dad.”

There was speculation that Ri was pregnant late last year, when she disappeared from public view for several months, a time frame that would seem to line up with a February birth.

Little is known about Ri, Kim Jong Un’s wife, who accompanied him to his father’s funeral in late 2011, sparking widespread speculation about the couple. It wasn’t until the following year that South Korean intelligence confirmed they had been married since 2009.

Ri was partially educated in China and visited South Korea in 2005 for the Asian Athletic Championships “as a member of North Korea’s cheering squad,” a South Korean lawmaker told CNN in 2012. She is believed to be around 30 years old.

[CNN]

Kim Jong Un spouse Ri Sol Ju makes appearance at banquet

North Korea’s leadership has been in a celebratory mood since the first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last week that the country said meant it had “risen to become one of the few nuclear weapons states.” There is so much joy, in fact, that even the wife of leader Kim Jong Un has come out of hiding.

Public appearances by Ri Sol Ju have become increasingly rare within the past two years. But she was by Kim’s side as the pair attended a banquet in Pyongyang Monday to pay tribute to the developers of the recently launched missile. It was the first time she has been seen in public since early March, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

Video of the celebrations shows Ri largely observing impassively next to her husband. When Kim offers toasts to the missile developers, the head of whom was promoted to the role of colonel general, Ri moves into the background, without a glass in hand.

Ri was first seen by Kim’s side in 2012, shortly after he had succeeded his father as the country’s leader. It wasn’t until after her appearance, though, that North Korean state media confirmed her name and the fact that she was Kim’s wife. The wedding is believed to have taken place in 2009, when Ri was said to be 23. Little, however, is known about her.

A former member of a renowned orchestra, Ri was, though, seen in public on numerous occasions through 2012, 2013 and 2014, something which in itself was a break from tradition. The wives of Kim’s father and grandfather were never seen in public.

But sightings have declined substantially since.

The couple is known to have one child, a daughter who was confirmed by the unlikely source of Dennis Rodman following his visit to North Korea in 2013. Kim is believed to be desperate for a son to continue a family dynasty that has ruled the country since Korea was officially split into two states, in 1948.

[Newsweek]

Kim Jong-un’s wife reappears in public after nine month absence

Ri Sol-ju, wife of Kim Jong-un has reappeared in public after seeming to vanish for nine months – prompting speculation she may have given birth to a male heir.

Ri Sol-ju reappeared – in the full gaze of the public alongside her husband – during an air combat training competition. Local media reported that she appeared comfortable to be at Kim Jong-un’s side as they watched the display by the Korean People’s Air Force and Defense (KPAF).

But there was no comment by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) as to the reasons behind her extended absence – or an exact date of when the photo was taken.

According to the South Korean news agency Yonhap News, Ri Sol-ju was last seen on a tour of a new commercial district and health complex in Pyongyang on March 28 of this year.

In May Kim Jong-un hosted the country’s first party congress in 36 years – and his wife was nowhere to be seen.

And over the past 9 months Kim Jong-un has been continuously spotted out and about touring the length and breadth of the country, never with his First Lady.

Ri Sol-ju had curiously also not been mentioned in any state reports over the last nine months.

 [The Mirror]

Where is Kim Jong-un’s wife, Ri Sol-ju?

The wife of Kim Jong-un has not been seen in public for seven months prompting speculation that she is either pregnant or perhaps has fallen out of favor.

Experts monitoring the situation in Pyongyang have suggested Ri Sol-ju, who was introduced as First Lady in 2012, may have fallen out with Kim Jong-un’s younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, who is increasingly regarded as the power behind the throne. Kim Yo-jong was put in charge of North Korea’s Propaganda and Agitation Department last year and is responsible for building up her brother’s cult of personality.

Ri was last seen on a tour of a new commercial district and health complex in Pyongyang on March 28 March of this year, South Korean news agency Yonhap News reported. In contrast Kim Jong-un has frequently been seen touring the country and hosted the country’s first party congress in 36 years in May.

Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo’s Waseda University who focuses on the Pyongyang leadership, said: “There are several possible reasons, including that she is pregnant or that there is some sort of problem between the two of them. There have also been reports of instability in Pyongyang and rumors of several attempted attacks, including by factions in the North Korean military, against Kim last year. So it is also possible that Ri has not appeared in public because she is being closely guarded.”

In 2012, Ri disappeared from public view, prompting speculation that she had fallen out of favor or was pregnant. It was later revealed that she gave birth to the couple’s first child, a daughter, sometime in late 2012.

On the other hand, Kim Jong-un is not above disposing of those closest to him if they fall out of favor. He executed his uncle, Jang Sung-taek, after finding him guilty of treason despite their relationship being reportedly close beforehand. Announcing the execution, Kim Jong-un denounced him as “human scum worse than a dog” for an alleged attempt to introduce reform.

[The Independent]

Kim Jong-un’s sister consolidates power

Kim Yeo-jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, appears to have risen to a position of considerable power in the secretive regime. Yeo-jong now holds a key post in the Workers Party’s department in charge of promotions and appointments. Senior officials like Army politburo chief Hwang Pyong-so now salute her.

Kim Yeo-jong rose quickly through the party ranks and consolidated her position, thanks to her quick wit and natural political acumen. Since September last year, she has been her brother’s de facto secretary, with most documents being submitted for approval by Kim passing through her desk, according to some intelligence sources.

“Rumors began spreading late last year that the fastest way of getting Kim Jong-un’s attention is to go through Kim Yeo-jong,” the source said. “She’s gaining power by controlling the information and deciding who gets to contact him.”

Kim Yeo-jong apparently won the trust of senior officials by consoling them and offering them advice when they were criticized by her brother. The two of them are seen as a classic good cop/bad cop act.

But her political ambitions have apparently led to some jealousy in the family. “When Yeo-jong was on maternity leave in May last year, Kim Jong-un’s wife Ri Sol-ju appointed a close relative of hers, and that frayed their relationship,” another source said.

A source said Kim Yeo-jong’s husband is a university professor in Pyongyang and comes from an ordinary background, denying recent rumors that she is married to the son of senior official Choe Ryong-hae.

[Chosun Ilbo]

Kim Jong Un and wife enjoy a night out with the rogue state’s premier girl band

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju (4th from right), along with members of the Moranbong Band who performed at the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea. [Click photo to enlarge]

Kim Jong-Un has continued the celebrations of his ruling Workers’ Party’s 70th anniversary with a concert by North Korea’s most popular girl band – and even posed for pictures surrounded by the young women.

Kim Jong-Un, 32, and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, believed to be in her late 20s, can be seen surrounded by members of the Moranbong Band, an all-female group reportedly the most popular in North Korea.

In another photo, the rotund ‘Dear Leader’, appears to be enjoying himself, as he laughs and enjoys a crafty cigarette while sitting next to his young wife, who wore a pale pink satin jacket and matching skirt.

 

[Daily Mail]

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un meets his first foreign leader

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Cuban First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez watch a performance in Pyongyang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held talks with Cuban First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, marking Kim’s first meeting with a senior foreign leader in more than the two years. He has yet to travel overseas since taking power in late 2011.

Kim said the visit by a Cuban delegation headed by Diaz-Canel is of “weighty significance in instilling the history and tradition of the friendship” between the two countries “into the rising generation,” during the meeting in Pyongyang on Monday, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

Diaz-Canel is the highest ranked official from overseas that Kim has held talks with since he met with Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao in July 2013 in Pyongyang.

This year marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between North Korea and Cuba. The latest meeting shows North Korea’s continued close ties with Cuba, which restored full diplomatic relations with the United States in July after being severed for more than five decades.

Kim and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, also hosted for the delegation a concert by the Moranbong Band, a North Korean all-female music group, and the State Merited Chorus, according to KCNA.

[South China Morning Post]

North Korea’s first lady Ri Sol-Ju appears in public for first time this year

North Korea’s first lady has appeared in public for the first time this year as part of celebrations marking the birthday of the country’s founding leader Kim Il-Sung. Ri has been out of the spotlight since December for unknown reasons.

A grinning Ri Sol-Ju, wearing what appeared to be a wedding ring on her left hand, was pictured clapping next to her smiling husband Kim Jong-Un during a men’s football match at Kim Il Sung Stadium on Monday, the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

The images of the couple at a podium flanked by top party officials were published in state media.

The match was being held as part of a lavish series of events celebrating the 103rd birthday of Kim Il-Sung, the young leader’s grandfather, which fell on Wednesday. North Korea designated the “Day of the Sun” as a rare two-day national holiday, with art performances, exhibitions and sporting events, and pilgrimages to the late leader’s birthplace in Pyongyang.

[AFP]