Speculation is growing that Ri Sol-Ju, wife of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un, has given birth in recent weeks, continuing the family dynasty into a fourth generation.
Photographs seen on North Korean TV show Ri Sol-Ju wearing a neatly-fitting two-piece skirt suit in contrast to the loose-fitting clothing she was seen wearing in mid December and which suggested she was heavily pregnant.
Adding to the speculation that Ri Sol-Ju has given birth was her recent slimmed-down appearance at an official event, which included an all-woman band singing the Johnny Mathis Christmas favorite When a Child is Born.
Before-and-after photos were run on South Korean TV and in Seoul newspapers today resulting in widespread agreement that Kim Jong-Un’s wife has had a child.
“The bulging stomach has gone down – has Ri Sol-Ju given birth?” asked one newspaper, the Dong-A Ilbo.
The caption in another South Korean paper, the Chosun Ilbo, read: “Ri Sol-Ju with her tummy reduced in 11 days. Has she come out right after childbirth?”
The photographs have undergone the most intense scrutiny and the verdict is that Ri Sol-Ju is a mother.
A South Korean government official, quoted by the national Yonhap news agency concluded that Ri Sol-Ju “appeared to have already given birth based on analysis of the TV images”.
Whether North Korea will officially announce what would be the equivalent of a royal birth is open to speculation.
No official announcement was made that Kim Jong-Un even had a wife until state media eventually revealed it.
But the announcement came long after pictures had emerged of a stylishly-dressed young woman accompanying the new leader at official events.
Kim Jong-Un was elevated to leader of the secretive Stalinist state following the death of his father, Kim Jong-Il, who had succeeded his own father, “Great Leader” Kim Il-Sung.
According to South Korean media, citing intelligence reports, the couple were married in 2009 and already have one child.
But that has never been confirmed.
Ri Sol-Ju is said to have come from an “ordinary family” – although her father being an academic and her mother a doctor raises them above the average level.
The young wife of North Korea’s leader made her first public appearance in two months in October – bringing to an end what might have been a period of “home detention” for being too carefree.
Ri Sol-Ju had been photographed earlier this year smiling and strolling about in a casual manner when accompanying her husband.
But then she disappeared from view, provoking speculation that she might be pregnant but more likely because she was not presenting the dour image promoted by her husband’s late father, Kim Jong-Il.
Analysts say that despite the young Kim’s appointment as supreme commander of the nation, he is still under the control of the military hierarchy who make sure he presents a rigid, authoritative image to the rest of the world.
That means that his wife must remain aloof and untouchable in the eyes of the masses, say North Korean experts.