North Korea: Leader Expecting A Little 'Un?

Mark Stone, Asia Correspondent
North Korea: Leader Expecting A Little 'Un?

North Korea could be about to make a second propaganda-boosting announcement in as many weeks following TV footage which suggests that the country's First Lady might be pregnant.

Only a few days since the country's surprisingly successful rocket launch, Kim Jong-un's wife Ri Sol-ju has appeared at a memorial service marking the death of her father-in-law Kim Jong-il looking heavily pregnant.

The country is in the middle of a national state of mourning to mark the first anniversary of the death of the man who is officially still regarded as the Dear Leader.

In the footage, Ri is seen wearing traditional mourning costume. There has been no official announcement by North Korean state media.

Speculation of a pregnancy first came in October when she appeared in public appearance for the first time in two months. She attended a football match and a concert with Kim.

Photos and video footage of that event, released by North Korean state media, showed her in a long loose jumper with a swollen face. The images didn't reveal her full figure.

It was only revealed in July that Kim had a wife. In a marked contrast with the secretive private life of his father, State Media announced Ri as Kim's wife after a short period of speculation. They showed pictures of the couple at an amusement park in Pyongyang.

Little is known of their marriage ceremony. It is thought their wedding was in 2010 or 2011 suggesting that she did meet her father-in-law before his death last December.

According to South Korean media reports, Ri has a background in performing arts. Her father is apparently a physics professor and her mother is a gynaecologist.

Last week's successful launch of a rocket which put a satellite into orbit was played out within North Korea as a patriotic milestone but almost universally condemned around the world.

The belief is that North Korea is pursuing a ballistic missile programme in tandem with its nuclear programme. The combination of the two could, in time, produce missiles with nuclear warheads and the capability of reaching mainland America.

North Korea insists it is pursuing its right to a peaceful space programme in line with international law.

The launch is thought to have strengthened the young Kim's grip on the country and bolstered his standing among the old-guard in the country's military who, according to some reports, were showing dissatisfaction with his leadership.

If the baby speculation is correct, the child will be the heir to a dictatorial dynasty begun by Kim's grandfather Kim Il-Sung after World War Two.


By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes