Ri Sol-ju, Kim Jong-un's wife, may have visited South Korea


North Korean state television on July 25, 2012 confirmed that leader Kim Jong-Un is married and named his wife as Ri Sol-Ju, South Korea's unification ministry said. South Korea's unification ministry said it appeared that Ri was the woman who has been pictured several times at Kim's side at public events in recent weeks.



Details about Kim Jong-un's newly revealed wife are still emerging, and like most news from North Korea, still uncertain.

The BBC reported that a South Korean lawmaker quoted intelligence officials, saying they believed Ri Sol-ju had visited South Korea in 2005 and studied singing in China.

Reuters noted, "In contrast to the family dynasty of dictators she has married into, Ri Sol-ju has actually been to South Korea."

South Korean news agency Yonhap said, "It is rare for South and North Koreans to visit each other's countries, as they must receive special permission from their respective governments. The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war following the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty."

South Korean lawmaker Jung Chung-rai, speaking after attending a meeting of South Korea's National Intelligence Service, said the intelligence agency believed Ri was born in 1989 and married Kim Jong-un in 2009, according to Yonhap.

More on GlobalPost: Kim Jong Un married Ri Sol-Ju, according to North Korean state TV

Jung  told reporters that Ri Sol-ju was from an ordinary family in Pyongyang and may have visited South Korea as part of the North's cheerleading team for the Asian Athletics Championship, said the BBC.

Jung also said, "Ri attended Geumsung's Second Middle School before going to China to study singing," according to CNN.

The BBC noted that a singer with the same name as Ri Sol-ju performed with the Eunhasu Orchestra until last year, according to a source, which told The Choson Ilbo newspaper.

Jung said it was not yet confirmed whether the couple had a three-year-old child as some Korean media had reported, said CNN.

More on GlobalPost: Kim Jong Un married: Where's the honeymoon?

Analysts have been speculating about the departure from Kim Jong-il's policy of never appearing with his wife or consorts. The Daily Telegraph noted, "Neither his father nor grandfather Kim Il-sung were ever pictured with their wives at public events."

Chang Yong-suk, of the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University, said revealing Kim Jong-un's wife could be part of an effort to show that he is not a child.

"If he went around alone, people would look down on him as a young lad, but with his wife present, he could show he is the head of the family and also an adult," Chang told Agence France Presse.