North Korea announced Wednesday that leader Kim Jong Eun is married, ending weeks of speculation about the identity of a “mystery woman” who has accompanied him in several recent appearances.
The woman is “Comrade” Ri Sol Ju, state media said, but not much else is known about her.
Last month, some reports surfaced that Kim’s companion might be a pop singer after a YouTube video emerged of a North Korean tune called, “Excellent Horse-Like Lady.”
That video’s performer is not Ri but rather former North Korean pop star Hyon Song Wol, an old flame of Kim’s, according to the Toronto National Post and other outlets.
“Hyon was a member of Bochonbo Electronic Music Band.... The Korea Joongang Daily reported that the pair were romantically attached previously, but Kim’s father disapproved and made them break it off sometime in 2006,” the Canadian newspaper reported.
(Here’s the aforementioned video):
News of the marriage within the isolated, totalitarian regime soon brought out the Twitter cynics:
Kim Jong Un is married. Why are the good ones always taken?— Betty F*ckin’ White (@BettyFckinWhite) July 25, 2012
Kim Jong-Un proposed by getting down on one knee and saying “You will marry me.”— Chase Mitchell (@ChaseMit) July 25, 2012
Kim Jong Un is now married! I hope his wife used pinterest to plan the wedding. I’m sure it was full of DIY and whimsy. Congrats you two!— Fitzlikeaglove (@fitzlikeaglove) July 25, 2012
During our vows, my bride said, “After what Katie Holmes went through, it’s so great to be marrying someone normal.”— KimJongNumberUn (@KimJongNumberUn) July 25, 2012
Wishing Kim Jong-Un the most successful and productive union since the #Euro.— Angela Merkel (not) (@Queen_Europe) July 25, 2012
However, The Washington Post’s Chico Harlan reports that Ri’s turn in the spotlight could be a sign of change in the reclusive nation:
“The first lady’s emergence ends a four-decade period where significant others of the ruling Kim family were kept almost entirely behind the scenes. The North’s willingness to give Ri a high profile adds to mounting evidence that Kim, appointed just seven months ago as North Korea’s leader, is trying to create a more personable image than that of his dour, reclusive father,” Harlan writes.
Earlier, the Atlantic posted a good rundown of four things that Kim’s public appearances with Ri might mean:
1) He’s distancing himself from his father, as Harlan noted.
2) He’s emulating his grandfather, North Korea founder Kim Il-sung, who did appear publicly with his wife in the 1990s.
3) It signals an opening to the West, as Ri dresses in modern outfits, and the pair have taken in a Disney-themed concert together.
4) He’s signaling his stability and downplaying his youth.
More world news coverage: