Kim’s wife reappears after more than 1 year out of public eye

Seoul, Feb 17 (efe-epa).- North Korea’s first lady Ri Sol-ju has appeared in public for the first time in more than a year, attending a concert in the capital with her leader husband Kim Jong-un, according to state media Wednesday.

The Rodong Sinmun newspaper and KCNA on Wednesday published photos of Kim and his wife at the Mansudae Art Theater in Pyongyang.

The pair attended a function on Tuesday to mark the birthday of Kim Jong-il, the former North Korean leader who died in 2011 and father of Kim.

The last time Ri appeared in the North Korean media was in January, 2020, when she and her husband attended a New Year’s concert at Pyongyang’s Samjiyon Theater.

Ri’s absence in the past year contrasts with her multiple public appearances in 2019, for example when she accompanied Kim on a visit to a spa resort and posed with the leader on a horse on the slopes of Mount Paektu.

Her failure to appear in North Korean media for so long has sparked speculation, including the possibility of a pregnancy.

It is not the first time that Ri has been absent from public events for several months and it is believed that past instances could coincide with previous pregnancies.

It is also believed that her absence from the public eye could be due to avoiding public spaces during the Covid-19 pandemic to avoid infecting her children, a theory that members of the South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) have supported.

On the other hand, images from Tuesday’s concert show none of the attendees, including Ri and Kim, were wearing masks or social distancing.

The secretive country continues to assure the World Health Organization (WHO) that it has not yet registered a single case of Covid-19.

However, and despite the fact that North Korea closed its borders in January 2020, the total absence of infections is a statement that many experts doubt, taking into account the porosity of the North Korean border with China. EFE-EPA


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