News / Asia

North Korea: Kim Jong Un's Mystery Companion Is Wife

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a woman being identified by state TV as his wife 'Comrade Ri Sol Chu,' visit the Rungna People's Pleasure Ground, which is nearing completion, in Pyongyang, July 25, 2012.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a woman being identified by state TV as his wife 'Comrade Ri Sol Chu,' visit the Rungna People's Pleasure Ground, which is nearing completion, in Pyongyang, July 25, 2012.
VOA NewsMichael Lipin
North Korea has confirmed its leader Kim Jong Un is married, ending weeks of speculation about the identity of a woman who has accompanied him to recent public events. 

Listen to VOA's Steve Herman in Seoul
Listen to VOA's Steve Herman in Seoul i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

State media reported that Mr. Kim and "Comrade Ri Sol Ju" toured a newly-built amusement park Wednesday in Pyongyang.  It was the first time North Korean media referred to the leader's wife and provided her name.  But the reports did not say when the two were married or provide other details. 
 
Mr. Kim took over the leadership of the reclusive state from his father Kim Jong Il, who died in December.  The introduction of North Korea's first lady is the latest in a series of moves that break with the late Kim's secretive and dour leadership style.  Kim Jong Un also has spoken in public and chatted informally with troops and other citizens. 

Image boosting

VOA Seoul correspondent Steve Herman says analysts believe North Korea's new leader is trying to prove himself.  "Because Kim Jong Un is so young - he's believed to be 29 years old - by showing him as a married man, so to speak, that shows that he is mature and this is very important in Korean culture.  So this would help bolster his image as a leader. And he does not carry that personal baggage of his father, who apparently had a number of different wives and lovers over many years," he said. 
 
Photo released on July 9, 2012 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju during a musical performance in Pyongyang. (KCNA)Photo released on July 9, 2012 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju during a musical performance in Pyongyang. (KCNA)
x
Photo released on July 9, 2012 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju during a musical performance in Pyongyang. (KCNA)
Photo released on July 9, 2012 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju during a musical performance in Pyongyang. (KCNA)
U.S. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said Washington remains concerned about the plight of North Korea's impoverished population. 
 
"We would always wish any kind of newlyweds well as they embark [on their life together].  But obviously, our concerns first and foremost are for the North Korean people and our hope that conditions for them will improve and that the new DPRK leadership will make the right choice about opening (up) the country and providing more for their people," she said. 
 
Another sign of Mr. Kim developing his own image is last week's announcement he has taken the title of Marshal, the country's top military rank. 
 
Herman said South Korea pays close attention to revelations about Pyongyang's leadership because the two neighbors have remained technically in a state of conflict since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
 
"Anything that happens with the North Korean leadership is very big news here because of the number of rockets and artillery that are pointed at Seoul from North Korea and the fact that North Korea is believed to be developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and has the world's fourth largest army, which would be used against South Korea if there were to be a new conflict," Herman said. 
 
"So, anything about Kim Jong Un's personal life is going to be of tremendous interest in South Korea."
 
A report released Wednesday by the International Crisis Group said there are no clear signs of a conspiracy to overthrow Mr. Kim, despite his surprise removal of a top military leader earlier this month.  ICG senior analyst Daniel Pinkston told VOA that Mr. Kim has a "firm grip" on power and is unlikely to make any significant policy changes.
 
The report said Pyongyang could test long-range missiles or a nuclear bomb in an effort to bolster Mr. Kim's credentials. 

Watch related video
Related video of Kim Jong Un, wifei
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
July 25, 2012 2:05 PM
Related video of Kim Jong Un, wife

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
July 25, 2012 10:17 PM
North Korea now sending out to the world their beautiful loving pictures intead of failed missle tests, A bomb facility, smoking guns, shelling cannons.......


by: Anonymous
July 25, 2012 1:21 PM
Nice looking young couple. May fresh ideas from the young people change N.Korea to a better place to live.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid