Wife of N. Korea's Kim is former singer: media

The wife of North Korea's Kim Jong-Un is a former singer who caught the leader's eye while she was giving a performance, South Korean media said Thursday after Pyongyang disclosed the marriage.

Official media in the secretive state revealed late Wednesday that a stylish young woman pictured accompanying Kim this month is his wife, Ri Sol-Ju.

It gave no details about her and did not say when they wed, but analysts said the mere fact that the couple were presented in public marked a new departure for the nation's dynastic leadership.

The world has been scrambling for information about Jong-Un since he took over the impoverished but nuclear-armed state after his father Kim Jong-Il died suddenly last December.

He is believed to be in his late 20s, but even his exact age is unknown outside the North.

The International Crisis Group think-tank said in a report this week that Jong-Un appears to be fully in charge, despite speculation he would have to rely on close advisers because of his youth and inexperience.

But it said there was nothing to suggest he would take measures to improve the lot of his people amid severe food shortages, or reduce regional frictions over the North's nuclear and missile programmes.

In public, Jong-Un has presented a relaxed and confident image in an apparent attempt to emphasise his readiness to rule.

In contrast to his late father, he has cultivated an outgoing and informal style -- hugging soldiers, posing for photos with troops and linking arms with women.

Neither his father nor grandfather Kim Il-Sung were ever pictured with their wives at public events.

But the disclosure of Jong-Un's marriage is partly to show "he is not a child", said Chang Yong-Suk, of the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University.

"If he went around alone, people would look down on him as a young lad, but with his wife present, he could show he is the head of the family and also an adult," Chang told AFP.

South Korean media reports generally agreed that the short-haired and smiling woman, apparently in her twenties, is a former songstress who was specially trained to become Kim's consort.

Yonhap news agency said she could be seen singing on video footage of a performance released by the North in February last year. Ri had taken a six-month course in the duties of a first lady, the agency said.

Chosun Ilbo newspaper said Ri was active in the North's Unhasu orchestra until last year and had performed for Jong-Un and his father on New Year's Eve 2010.

"There is a possibility Jong-Un chose her as his wife after seeing her at the concert hall," it quoted a source as saying.

Another source told the paper that after the marriage Ri had undergone a six-month course in duties of a first lady at Kim Il-Sung University, the nation's most prestigious academic institution.

JoongAng Ilbo also described Ri as a former singer who came to the young Kim's notice during a performance. It said Jong-Un's father had singled her out as first lady while he was working on his succession plan.

The Kim Il-Sung University graduate is from the northeastern province of North Hamkyong whose father is an academic and mother a doctor, the paper said. Dong-A Ilbo gave similar details about her background and said the couple married in 2009.

The United States took the opportunity to reiterate concerns about the plight of North Koreans under the Kim family dynasty.

"We would always wish any kind of newlyweds well as they embark" on married life, said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, joking that the United States had not been invited to the wedding.

"But obviously our concerns first and foremost are for the North Korean people, and our hope that conditions for them will improve."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute
    Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute

    As US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Regan began its journey to Asian waters amid China’s power flexing in the region, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin would try to hear directly from his US counterpart how far America is willing to go to aid its long-time ally against China’s threatening moves in disputed waters. Gazmin flew to Hawaii last Monday to attend ceremonies for the turnover of leadership of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) from Admiral Samuel Locklear to Admiral Harry …

  • Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level
    Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level

    The water level of Angat Dam in Bulacan yesterday fell below the 180-meter critical level for irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said. PAGASA said the dam’s water level further dropped to 179.98 meters as of 6 a.m. yesterday from 180.2 meters on Monday. The priority is the domestic consumption in Metro Manila, according to PAGASA. …

  • PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid
    PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid

    The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) reported yesterday that an estimated P3-billion charity fund has been allocated by Congress to the agency to provide medical assistance to indigent patients and also give funds to other government offices including the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Crop Insurance Program. …

  • Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila
    Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila

    In this photo by Bullit Marquez, a demolition crew begins to tear down a squatters' community at suburban Caloocan city, north of Manila, Philippines. Population growth and the lack of economic opportunities in rural areas have driven millions of Filipinos into the squatters' colonies that dot the sprawling metropolitan area in and around Manila. Most of the land they occupy is privately owned, and clearing the dwellings often results in violence. The landowner had offered about $1,344 in …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Mostly down; Thai shares near 2-week low

    BANGKOK, May 26 (Reuters) - Most sharemarkets in Southeast Asia fell on Tuesday with the Thai index ending at a near two-week low and the Philippines touching a near four-week low after trade data while ... …

  • China breaks ground on lighthouse project in South China Sea

    China hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the building of two lighthouses in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Tuesday, a move that is likely to escalate tensions in a region already jittery about Beijing's maritime ambitions. China's Ministry of Transport hosted the ceremony for the construction of two multi-functional lighthouses on Huayang Reef and Chigua Reef on the disputed Spratly islands, state news agency Xinhua said, defying calls from the United States and the …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Thai, Philippine indexes weak after trade data

    BANGKOK, May 26 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose in line with the rest of Asia on Tuesday but the Thai index pared early gains after weak trade data in April, while the Philippine benchmark ... …

  • Is your home on top of a faultline?
    Is your home on top of a faultline?

    The Philippine Institute of Volcanoly and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) recently issued an updated and high-resolution "atlas" of the East Valley Fault and West Valley Fault, two major faultlines that run through sections of Metro Manila. Metro Manila may be due for a 7.2-magnitude earthquake within this lifetime, say experts from the institute, among them PHIVOLCS director Dr. Renato Solidum, Jr. According to records, the last major earthquake caused by the West Valley Fault took place 357 years …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options