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.