South Koreans React to News of Kim Jong-un’s Wife

North Korean leader Kim and his wife Ri attend opening ceremony of Rungna People's Pleasure Ground in Pyongyang

For the past couple of months, a mysterious woman has been seen with Kim Jong-un during official visits and concert performances. She was widely speculated to be his wife, his sister, or his mistress; North Korean state media announced last week that she is his wife. Her appearance and the public confirmation of her status as his wife marks another break for Kim Jong-un from his father, whose “first ladies” were never seen in public. (Kim Il-sung’s First Lady, Kim Song-ae, was occasionally seen on state TV.) While many news headlines have been running the title “Kim Jong-un Gets Married”, South Korean intelligence recently stated that he has been married since 2009. (Other guesses have been early 2011 or spring 2010.)

Ri Sol-ju and Kim Jong-un at a performance.

His wife’s name is Ri Sol-ju, and she may have visited South Korea in 2005 for the Asian Athletics Championships and studied in China. Some hope she can help Kim Jong-un become a catalyst for change; others believe that her appearances with him are simply another propaganda stunt by the regime. Whatever the case, there is still much unknown about her and the first family. Some North Korea experts have said that Jong-un’s choice of wife was influenced by his school days in Switzerland.

From Nate:

Kim Jong-un’s European Lifestyle, And His Wife Revealed To The Public In An ‘Unprecedented’ Move

A headshot of Ri Sol-ju.

Ri Sol-ju and Kim Jong-un visit a North Korean kindergarten.

Kim Jong-un and Ri Sol-ju relaxing.

Kim Jong-un, the First Chairman of the National Defense Committee, has been doing unprecedented actions such as physically touching [North Korean] citizens, revealed his ‘First Lady’ on the 25th, which seemed to be another unprecedented move.

The public confirmation of the First Lady’s existence makes it almost difficult to remember Kim Jong-il’s days as Supreme Leader.

Kim Jong-il had 4 known wives – Song Hye-rim, Kim Young-sook, Ko Young-hee and Kim Ok – some of whom were ‘formal’ wives, others informal ones [like Kim Ok], but it is almost impossible to find their names in the North Korean media.

Kim Jong-il’s fourth wife, Kim Ok, accompanied him during his 2011 trip to China and was seen at Kim Jong-il’s funeral in North Korean and Western media. However, her identity as North Korea’s ‘First Lady’ was never confirmed.

Analysts say that Kim Jong-un’s idea of making public his first lady was likely influenced by his experiences studying abroad in a first world country [Switzerland].

Jeong Seong-jang, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Research Institute, said, “[Jong-un] lived and studied in Switzerland for four and a half years, so he would have been influenced by the family-oriented Western culture. Those who are part of the conservative culture in North Korea, the older people, will likely be reluctant to embrace that kind of family culture, but it can leave a good impression on young people, especially young women.”

Jeong continued, “He will maintain the political system of a dictatorship, but compared to the Kim Jong-il era, he appears to be much more open minded.”

Jong-un, who is 28 years old, is trying to shake off his image of being young and inexperienced and is trying to give the appearance of stability [in his regime], analysts say.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor of North Korean graduate studies, said, “Kim Jong-un is trying to dispel the image that he lacks experience and is trying to project an image of stability in North Korea. By openly displaying the North Korean leadership, he is trying to change the ‘dictator’ attitude and discrimination that Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il displayed.”

Professor Yang pointed out the large amount of differences between Kim Jong-un and his father, Kim Jong-il, and expressed the view that Jong-un was taking a “considerable gamble” with his new bride.

It is rumored that Kim Jong-un has been married since early 2011 but this has not been confirmed.

Some media outlets have reported the rumor that Jong-un married his wife after she graduated from Kim Il-sung University in the spring of 2010.

She is believed to be two years older than Jong-un and have been born in Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province, where her father is a university faculty member and her mother is a doctor. There is also a rumor going around the the couple have a child.

Her name has been revealed as ‘Ri Sol-ju’ but almost no other information is known about her, so there are various assumptions about her character.

North Korea revealed her identity to the public on July 7th and confirmed her as being the First Lady on the 20th.

On the 7th, she was seen with Kim Jong-un on a KCNA broadcast of a ‘Moranbong’ performance.

Ri was seen sitting in a chair next to Kim Jong-un during the performance but her name was not revealed at that time.

Ri was seen at an event honoring the 18th anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s death on July 8th, then at a kindergarten with Kim Jong-un on the 15th, but the North Korean media faithfully guarded her identity.

Comments from Nate:


The Korean wave is sweeping North Korea! I hope that his wife watches a drama like Secret Garden or A Gentleman’s Dignity with Hyun Bin and Jang Dong-gun, in which she becomes tortured by the gap between reality and fantasy and assassinates her husband.


As I heard, he lives in a paradise on earth, so why are high-ranking officials going to abroad to study? Ke ke ke


You [Kim Jong-un] should make your politics more liberal so your people can eat and live better, so later, when we reunify, we can handle the economic shock so it will not be so harsh…


Whenever I look at that pig I feel like I am looking at trash…apparently Kim Jong-un’s biggest anti-fan is his barber.


She is more than that bastard deserves.


Are they using a 3 megapixel digital camera?


That dog, Kim Jong-il, coveted another man’s wife and forced her to divorce her husband to be with him. That woman’s name was Song Hye-rim…one of Song’s friends suffered terrible pain in Yodok Concentration Camp simply because she knew of Song’s past. Song’s friend saw her father starve to death and her son die in the camp. Her family members were wrapped in a straw mat and buried by hand. This dog Jong-un is no different. He may say that woman is his wife, but the apple never falls far from the tree. Kim Jong-un also had a woman of another man besides his wife. She is the one who Jong-un couldn’t get married to because the dog Jong-il was opposed to that marriage. Like his father, Jong-un also may have forcibly put someone in the camp in order to silence them because they know the truth. Ordinary North Koreans are starving to death and North Korean soldiers suffer from malnutrition…although he has a First Lady, he wants to have another man’s wife. How reckless! If there is a God, God will strike him with lightning dozens of times.


In the South it is the men who are handsome and in the South it is the women who are beautiful. [A play of words on 남남북녀, which means ‘In the South it is the men who are handsome and in the North it is the women that are beautiful.’]


That fat pig is so happy…She’s like a surrogate mother [to Jong-un]. And he’s 27 years old with that kind of face? Hoel


Pigs always come in pairs, tsk tsk.


How will his studying abroad influence a liberal leadership style…three generations of guys wearing Mao suits, please change your clothes already!


My feelings upon seeing this picture! In the South it is the men who are handsome and in the North it is the women who are beautiful? What the fuck (-.-凸) In the South it is the men who are handsome and in the South it is the women who are the best!


Kim Jong-un, is it even possible for you to have a different hair style???? Where the hell does he get his hair cut? Is it even possible to find a barbershop that will give you that kind of hairstyle?


Even pigs have wives…


The couple resembles each other…they are a couple of dog pigs.


Whoever said “In the South it is the men who are handsome and in the North it is the women who are beautiful” should prostrate themselves.


She is the one who becomes a surrogate mother of that fat bastard.


She’s pretty cute, it’s a shame she’s the wife of that pig.


Even though he’s a fat pig he still has a woman, why don’t I have one? ㅠㅠ

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