North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's wife, Ri Sol-ju, finally made public appearance almost after a year on Tuesday. She was seen attending a concert commemorating the birthday of late leader Kim Jong-il with her husband on Tuesday night. The official ruling Worker’s Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun released photos of the couple at the event to mark the birthday of Kim’s late father and former leader Kim Jong Il. Ri had often accompanied Kim to major public events.
She was seen last in public on 25 January 2020, at a Lunar New Year celebration at a theatre in Pyongyang and her disappearance since then had sparked many speculations and conspiracy theories.
Her extended absence prompted questions over her health, whether she might be in seclusion to avoid any risk of coronavirus infection, or pregnant — the couple are believed to have three children, reports AFP.
According to reports and statements from various Korean officials, one of the reasons why Ri was away could be because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hong Min, director of the North Korean research division at Korea Insitute for National Unification, stated, "Her disappearance could be due to coronavirus pandemic. As a mother with young children, participating in public activities risks potential infection. Even Kim Jong-un went on the lowest number of on-site guidance in the past year," reported Zee News.
This week, a South Korean intelligence stated that she is "likely" to be safe and spending a good time with her children, reports Mirror.uk. Few officials are of the opinion that Ri has been busy taking care of her young daughter, Ju-ae.
In another conspiracy theory, it has been speculated that Ri's disappearance could also be due to Kim Jong-Un's ailing aunt, Kim Kyung Hee. It is said that she has been busy all this while taking care of her.
Some theories have emerged that Ri herself could have been suffering from some serious health issue, and hence has been isolating herself for long.
One of the scariest ones is one that states that she was made to disappear by her "ruthless" husband. It is said that Ri is not allowed to step out of her house without the company of her husband and the leader.
Ri tied the knot with Kim Jon-un in 2009. The former star singer, believed to be in her early 30s, emerged into the public eye in 2012. She is regarded as one of the most high-profile women in the isolated, deeply patriarchal nation, alongside her husband's sister and close adviser Kim Yo Jong.
(with inputs from agencies)