Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Why has North Korea kept silent on Kim Jong-un's wife until now? (+video)

(Read article summary)
(Read caption) A first look at Kim Jong-un's wife.
About these ads

For the first time today, North Korea acknowledged that the mysterious woman who has been seen accompanying North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a recent series of public appearances is his wife.

Ever since the unnamed woman was first spotted with Kim at a July 5 concert, speculation has been rampant that she might be either his spouse or younger sister. But today, North Korean media finally reported that her name was Ri Sol-ju, and she was his wife when the woman and Kim attended a ceremony to mark the completion of an amusement park in an islet in Pyongyang.

Many analysts say that one of Kim’s major weaknesses is that he succeeded his father as leader of North Korea at too early an age; he is believed to only be in his late 20s. And some experts say the North’s admission that Ms. Ri is Kim’s wife is aimed at dispelling doubts about his maturity and experience. They say that by portraying Kim as a married man, Pyongyang hopes the North Korean people, as well as the entire world, will stop seeing him as a youthful, untested leader.

All of that makes sense, but why has the North waited so long to make its announcement about Kim’s marital status?

The answer may be as simple as “it was too risky.”

Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the founder and first leader of North Korea, pulled off the first Communist hereditary power succession in modern times by installing his son Kim Jong-il as the second leader of North Korea. There was great doubt in people’s minds, including the minds of those in power in the North Korean regime, as to whether this would be possible to pull this off again.


Page:   1   |   2

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.