News / Asia

N. Koreans Wonder Who's That Girl with Kim Jong Un?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (Center) applauds during a demonstration performance by the newly formed Moranbong band in Pyongyang, July 9, 2012
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (Center) applauds during a demonstration performance by the newly formed Moranbong band in Pyongyang, July 9, 2012
SEOUL – Newly televised images from North Korea showing a young woman accompanying the country's new leader are getting the attention of analysts and intelligence officials, who are trying to figure out her identity.

Is she Kim Jong Un's girlfriend, wife or younger sister? One published report in a South Korean newspaper even speculated the mystery woman might have been a lover of the new leader's late father, Kim Jong Il.

North Korea has not said whether the current leader has a wife and his official biography does not mention his marital status.

What is certain is that, in a nation where any appearances involving the country's leader are highly stage-managed, the woman is someone significant, especially to be seen walking and sitting at the side of Kim, who is believed to be in his late 20's.

Physical proximity to a North Korean leader in public appearances is a typical indication of where someone ranks in the political or military hierarchy of the totalitarian state.

Senior fellow Cheong Seong-chang at the Sejong Institute believes the woman is Kim Jong Un's wife.

Cheong says unlike his father who had a complicated personal life, Kim Jong Un does not have such baggage and has firmly secured power. Thus it is timely for him to reveal his wife to the public.

Cheong says this can also be interpreted as an indication that North Korea's political situation has re-stabilized following Kim Jong Il's death last December.

Cheong adds that Kim's biggest handicap as a leader is his age and by showing his wife in public, it will make North Koreans more comfortable with his youth by portraying him as a family man.

The woman was wearing a black jacket and skirt as she bowed with Kim at a Sunday ceremony marking the 18th anniversary of the death of Kim Il Sung, the country's founder and grandfather of the current leader.

Officials of the government of South Korea, which closely monitors events in the North, say they do not know the woman's identity.

The mystery woman was first seen seated next to Kim attending a performance broadcast on state television Saturday.

The show by the newly-organized Moranbong band also is apparently the first time North Korea has allowed performers dressed in costumes of such Western popular culture icons as Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh.

In response to a query from VOA News, a Walt Disney Company official in California replied in a terse one-sentence statement that the company "did not license or authorize the use of its characters" for the performance in Pyongyang.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Computer Crash Halts US Visa, Passport Operation

Problems with database have resulted in extensive backlog of applications, affected State Department's consular offices all over the world More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

World Bank: Boko Haram Stalls African Aid Projects

Islamist group’s terrorism sets back agriculture, health efforts in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bac Ky from: Hoa Lo
July 13, 2012 5:44 AM
Is North Korea any worse than USA that allows corporations and banks to enslave its citizens with debt.? Both the USA and DPRK control thier " masses"... Each just does it in their own way.


by: Ferrin from: US
July 11, 2012 2:00 PM
Whoopdiedoo
Who really gives a rats ass about a country stuck in the cold war mentality who imprisons, tortures and starves it's own people to stay in power. North Korea is a joke. Just look at their leaders


by: Thach thaak from: Khmer Krom
July 11, 2012 1:51 PM
This girl is his mistress, don't doubt in communist state, the dictator can rape any girls, they desire, no one can stop them such as the newly-elected dictator of North Korean looks like a pig his face, his body. Mercy to North Korean people, they live uglier than slave under present regime. This ruthless dynasty doesn't care its own people, even its own people in hunger, in need of rice to survive but this down regime never pays attention. May Buddha bless Korean people to release them all from the current suffering.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid