North Korean first lady reappear after nine months of absence from media

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(Photo from Dong Fang Zao Bao)

The wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been spotted alongside her husband after disappearing from public view since March. This raised wild speculations about the couple’s relationship and the purpose of her public appearance at this time.

Ri Sol-ju attended an air combat training competition with Kim Jong-un conducted by the Korean People’s Air Force and Defense, according to North Korea’s state-run media. Yet the specific date and location about this event were not revealed.

Ever since Ri, a former singer, made her first appearance as Kim’s wife on the scene in 2012, she has been absent in media for pregnancy and other reasons for a few times. But this is the first time that she has not been seen for nine months long.

North Korea’s propaganda machine has usually used Ri to cover Kim’s cruel character and immature leadership.

An expert from South Korea’s think tank has linked the reason of Ri’s reappearance to the US’s president-elect Donald Trump. Chief of the Institute for National Security Strategy of South Korea Ri Shoo-suk said ‘It seems like Kim wanted to convey a message that he is just like Trump, a normal leader who married a celebrity.’

Some analysts also consider Kim wants to use this to attract Mr Trump’s attention, and look for a break-through in the relationship between two countries.

According to South Korean media Chosun Ilbo, the times for Ri accompanying Kim in public has declined sharply since last year. The couple had showed up together for 18 times in 2012, 22 times in 2013, 15 times in 2014, but only 7 times in 2015 and 4 times this year.

This change has sparked some speculation that the mysterious first lady had fallen out of favour with Kim and and his family including his younger sister Yeo-jong, who is in charge of managing Kim’s public image.

BBC to enter North Korea, who are they competing with?

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(Photo by Tim Carpenter/Flickr)

The BBC World Service is to broadcast news programs in North Korea as part of the biggest expansion of its journalism since 1940s.

The corporation has confirmed Korean as one of 11 new languages serviced that will be launched in 2017.

It is wildly believed that the BBC is trying to break the constriction on free speech and deliver independent news to North Korea.

North Korean people are blocked from all access to foreign news in the country. The government controls everything on TV, radio, newspaper and books.

But it doesn’t mean there is no space for foreign media in the country. There are still radio services like South Korea’s KBS, the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and some private radio stations targeting it, but very few succeeded.

Basically people in North Korea can only receive information from state-run and local media. There are four national radio broadcast services and ten local radio stations aiming at propaganda to its people and South Korea. In terms of TV, there are three channels, the most authoritative Korean Central TV, Mansoodae TV and Kaesung TV which is targeting South Korea.

(Video by WrathofKhan/Youtube)

Some foreign news organizations also can assign their stuff to work in North Korea. China’s Xinhua News Agency, China Central Television and People’s Daily, Russia’s Tass, Japan’s Kyoto News are on the list. In 2010, the United States’ the Association Press became the first western media to set up office in the blocked country.

According to Xinhua News Agency’s former North Korea correspondent Zhang Li, each foreign news organization normally has one or two stuff in their North Korean office, and all of them need to work under supervision from the regime. If a journalist wants to cover an event or do an interview, they need to get permission from the authorities first. Thus it is almost impossible for them to cover stories independently and objectively.