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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid