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N. Korea's first lady out of public eye for over 7 months

2016/10/30 10:32

SEOUL, Oct. 30 (Yonhap) -- Ri Sol-ju, the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has not shown up at public events for over seven months, an analysis of the North's media reports showed Sunday.

Ri's public activity was last reported by the North's media on March 28, 2016, when she accompanied Kim on his visit to a newly built commercial district and health complex in Pyongyang. At that time, Kim and Ri met with officials and employees at the Mirae Shop and the health complex.

Ri Sol-ju (R) accompanies her husband and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on a visit to the Mirae Shop in Pyongyang on March 28, 2016. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (KCNA-Yonhap file photo) Ri Sol-ju (R) accompanies her husband and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on a visit to the Mirae Shop in Pyongyang on March 28, 2016. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (KCNA-Yonhap file photo)

Earlier, Ri accompanied Kim 18 times in 2012, 22 times in 2013 and 15 times in 2014. But the number fell sharply to seven last year and three this year, according to the analysis.

"Ri showed up at public events every two months last year but has not appeared in public for over seven months this year. That's quite extraordinary," said a North Korea watcher. "Some sources speculate Ri's disappearance may be linked to a check on her activities by Kim's younger sister Kim Yo-jong."

   Other watchers are raising speculation about a possible pregnancy or marital rift.

In 2013, Ri briefly suspended her public activities due to allegations of her link to lewd videos involving members of a North Korean girl band.

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