The wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Ri Sol-Ju , has reappeared after dropping out of the public eye for 50 days amid fevered rumors that she was either pregnant or had fallen out of favor.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Ri Sol-Ju joined her husband at a musical performance and a football match in Pyongyang on Monday.
The fact that Kim Jong-un even had a wife was only revealed in July when pictures emerged of a stylish young woman accompanying the new young leader at official events.
A terse statement from Pyongyang’s state television that month confirmed her identity and the fact the couple were married.
Then in early September she dropped from public view just as suddenly as she had appeared.
Her absence triggered speculation that she might be pregnant, while some suggested she was doing penance for failing to wear the lapel pin – bearing the image of one or both of the country’s late leaders – that all adult North Koreans are required to wear.
A photo of the couple at Monday’s musical performance showed Ri, wearing a long coat, applauding as Kim saluted the cheering crowd.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency stoked the pregnancy rumors by observing that her mid-section appeared swollen. It was not clear if she was wearing a badge under the coat.
The announcement of Kim Jong-un’s marriage and Ri’s media profile mark a departure for North Korea, whose intensely secretive regime has previously kept the private lives of its rulers under wraps.
Ri was described as coming from an ordinary family, with her father an academic and her mother a doctor. She visited South Korea in 2005 as a cheerleader for her country’s squad in the Asian Athletics Championships.