A government source, who declined to be identified, said images on the Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station showed a slimmer Ri watching a live New Year's performance with her husband and other high-ranking dignitaries.
He claimed local experts who saw the footage of the first lady speculated that, judging by the weight loss, she may have given birth recently.
Ri Sol-ju (Yonhap file photo)
This claim was based on the contrast between the latest images taken on New Year's Day and those released in mid December. Pictures of Ri taken last month showed her face looking puffy and there was a noticeable swelling in her midsection.
Speculations have abounded about Ri's condition since late October when photos showed signs she may be carrying a child. Observers said Kim's wife seemed to have gained weight compared to when images of her first started being released by the communist country's media outlets in July.
This claim was further fueled when she was pictured in a black hanbok, or traditional Korean dress, on Dec. 17, the first anniversary of the death of Kim Jong-il, the father of her husband. Because hanbok tends to hide the body it was difficult to get a clear glimpse of her figure, but many North Korean watchers argued that her midsection seemed even larger.
They speculated that since Ri was at a reception on Dec. 21 to mark the successful launch of North Korea's long-range rocket, she may have given birth right after the memorial service for her father-in-law.
Despite such speculations, officials in South Korea's intelligence community downplayed the possibility of Ri's pregnancy.
"There is no evidence at present to indicate that she gave birth based on changes in her figure and style of dress," the source said.