In recent weeks speculation has been building about the fate of Kim Jong-Un’s wife, Ri Sol Joo, who, after appearing quite regularly in North Korean state-run media following her first public appearance in July, has not been seen since early September. A number of possibilities have been floated about her sudden disappearance including that her refusal to wear the required lapel pin featuring the face of Kim Il-Song had upset some of the elder guard in the North Korean regime.
Now a new theory is being advanced by Daily NK, a South Korean-based media outlet that is known to have sources inside the North Korea regime and whose staff includes people who defected from that country. Daily NK reports today that there is growing speculation among North Korea’s political elite that the reason Ri isn’t appearing in public is because she is pregnant with Kim Jong-Un’s child.
Daily NK cites one “inside source” as saying, “After Ri Sol Joo stopped appearing on Chosun Central TV and in Rodong Shinmun, where she had been appearing quite regularly up to then, the rumor that it is because she is pregnant started to spread really fast.”
The report goes on to note that even before Ri vanished from the public eye, there were signs of a possible pregnancy. The most visible one of which was that Kim Jong-Un’s wife supposedly began to put on weight between the time she made her first appearance in July, to the last time she was seen in public on September 5th. Furthermore, Daily NK reports, when the Kim couple attended the opening of an amusement park over the summer, Ri appeared in every picture with Kim except the one taken of him riding the roller coaster.
Kim and Ri are believed to already have one child together.
The Diplomat could not independently verify the information in Daily NK’s report. Furthermore, a gynecologist Daily NK discussed the matter with said none of this is conclusive evidence that Ri is pregnant.
Thus, as is so often the case with North Korea, the disappearance of the country’s paramount leader’s wife remains shrouded in mystery.
Zachary Keck is Assistant Editor of The Diplomat. You can find him on Twitter: @ZacharyKeck.