North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s wife recently ended an unusual absence and made her first public appearance in more than a year. According to Bloomberg, Ri Sol Ju joined her husband during a musical performance on one of the country's biggest holidays. The event was to mark the birthday of Kim's late father and former leader Kim Jong-il. The day is celebrated as the Day of the Shining Star in North Korea. KCNA on February 17 reported that when General Secretary came to the auditorium with his wife, all the participants burst into thunderous cheers of "hurrah".
Ri Sol Ju and Kim Jong Un entered the Mansudae Art Theatre together. Ri was previously seen in public at another concert with the DPRK leader in January 2020. According to reports, the 32-year-old may have been sidelined due to the coronavirus, which virtually ended international visits and the need to appear by her husband’s side at events part of a normal nation’s statecraft.
Corée du Nord : Ri Sol-ju, la femme de Kim Jong Un a fait une rare apparition publique, la première depuis plus d'un an. pic.twitter.com/bQqT2ZjbvH— Rebecca Rambar (@RebeccaRambar) February 16, 2021
Rachel Minyoung Lee, an independent political analyst who used to work for the U.S. government in areas related to North Korea, said that if Ri’s prolonged absence was due to concerns about the coronavirus, her reappearance could suggest increased regime confidence in the country’s quarantine situation. South Korea’s spy agency also said that Ri may have been taking care of the couple’s children and avoiding public exposure during the coronavirus pandemic. Within North Korea, there was also speculation that Ri may have taken ill, taking care of a member of the Kim family who had gotten sick or staying at home to prepare her youngest daughter to start school.
Ri’s first mention on KCNA came in 2012, about half a year after her husband took over as leader. The year-long disappearance was by far the longest stretch she hasn’t appeared in state media. Ri is a former singer who as a teenager served in a NorthKorean cheerleading squad.
It is worth noting that she has appeared with her husband for a summit in China, where the couple sat down for a meal with President Xi Jinping and his wife. Ri also reportedly joined Kim as they rode horses through the snow on North Korea’s Mount Paektu, the symbolic seat of Kim's family rule over the country. Ri and Kim had gotten married back in 2009 and they are thought to have three children, but there is no official mention of their offspring.