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Kim Jong Un’s wife Ri makes first public appearance since Sept

FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju wave to Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan during Xi's visit in Pyongyang, North Korea in this picture released by by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 21, 2019. KCNA via REUTERS

On Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s wife, Ri Sol Ju, made her first appearance in official media in nearly five months, as the ruling family has kept a low profile amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The news: According to the official KCNA news agency, Kim and Ri attended a Lunar New Year art performance at the Mansudae Art Theatre in Pyongyang’s capital.

  • She was last seen in public on September 9, when she accompanied her husband to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, which holds Kim’s late grandfather and father’s embalmed bodies, on the country’s birth anniversary.
  • “When (Kim) appeared at the auditorium of the theatre with his wife, Ri Sol Ju, amid the playing of the welcome music, the audience raised stormy cheers of ‘Hurrah!'” KCNA said, adding the couple took the stage after the show to shake hands and take a photo with the artists.

What happened: Ri had previously attracted international notice because she frequently joined Kim on social, professional, and even military activities, in sharp contrast to his father, Kim Jong Il, who rarely appeared in public with any of his wives.

  • She had been missing from state media for nearly a year before being spotted at a concert in February last year, fuelling rumours about her health and possible pregnancy.
  • She presumably avoided outside activities to avoid COVID-19 infections, according to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, but was “playing well with their kids.”

Kim and Ri are thought to have three children, according to the spy service, but little is known about them.

Although North Korea has not reported any COVID-19 outbreaks, it has closed its borders and imposed tight travel restrictions.

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