Fears grow for Kim’s wife

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

SEOUL: The wife of North Korean dic­ta­tor Kim Jong-un has not been seen in pub­lic for seven months prompt­ing spec­u­la­tion that she is ei­ther preg­nant or has fallen out of favour.

Ex­perts mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Py­ongyang have sug­gested Ri Sol-ju, who was in­tro­duced as First Lady in 2012, may have fallen out with Kim Jong-un’s younger sis­ter, Kim Yo-jong, who is in­creas­ingly re­garded as the power be­hind the throne.

Yo-jong was put in charge of North Korea’s Pro­pa­ganda and Ag­i­ta­tion Depart­ment last year and is re­spon­si­ble for build­ing up her brother’s cult of per­son­al­ity.

Ri was last seen on a tour of a new com­mer­cial district and health com­plex in Py­ongyang on March 28, South Korean news agency Yonhap News re­ported.

Toshim­itsu Shige­mura, a pro­fes­sor at Tokyo’s Waseda Uni­ver­sity who fo­cuses on the Py­ongyang lead­er­ship, told The Tele­graph Ri’s dis­ap­pear­ance could be down to sev­eral fac­tors.

“There are sev­eral pos­si­ble rea­sons, in­clud­ing that she is preg­nant or that there is some sort of prob­lem be­tween the two of them.

“There have also been re­ports of in­sta­bil­ity in Py­ongyang and even of sev­eral at­tempted at­tacks, in­clud­ing by fac­tions in the North Korean mil­i­tary, against the dic­ta­tor last year.

“It is pos­si­ble that Ri has not ap­peared in pub­lic be­cause she is be­ing closely guarded,” he said.

Kim is not above dis­pos­ing of those clos­est to him if they fall out of favour.

He ex­e­cuted his un­cle, Jang Sung-taek, af­ter find­ing him guilty of trea­son de­spite their re­la­tion­ship be­ing re­port­edly close be­fore­hand. – The In­de­pen­dent

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