The South Korean news media, which scrutinizes every photo of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, zeroed in this week on one particular photo released by the North’s state-run news agency on Tuesday. It shows Mr. Kim watching an art performance by soldiers during a military visit.
South Korean journalists did not take long to identify Ms. Ri’s handbag and, assuming it is genuine, its going price in Seoul: 1.8 million won, or $1,600. That is about 16 times the average monthly wage of a North Korean worker in the Gaeseong industrial park, a joint venture between North and South Korea that provides some of the best-paying jobs in the impoverished North.
The South Korean news media also noted the apparent “belly fat” — or is it a baby bump? — that Ms. Ri has developed. (The South Korean spy agency believes that Ms. Ri and Mr. Kim already have a child.)
Ms. Ri has drawn international attention since she began accompanying her husband in public early last month. Her expensive-looking designer suits stand out among the North Korean elites, who typically wear olive-colored military uniforms and drab Mao suits.
Some outside analysts even consider her appearance as a sign of potential change in leadership and even lifestyle that Mr. Kim could bring about as a youthful leader who studied in Europe as a teenager. (Recent visitors to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, reported seeing miniskirts, high heels, Nike hats and Hello Kitty cellphone accessories.)
From a blog article by Choe Sang-hun