North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's fourth wife Kim Ok is among his entourage on a visit to China. A video clip posted on the Internet shows Kim visiting an LCD factory on the outskirts of the southern Chinese city of Nanjing. In the video, he gets out of a car and is greeted by a welcoming party, while Kim Ok emerges from the other side of the vehicle.
The bodyguard who opens the door bows to Kim Ok, who is wearing a light green top, black skirt and white shoes. It is rare for her to be spotted on the North Korean leader's overseas visits.
"Kim Ok played the role of North Korea's first lady by accompanying Kim Jong-il on both visits to China in May and August last year," a South Korean intelligence officer said. "The woman is clearly Kim Ok seeing as she sat next to Kim Jong-il and emerged from the car with him."
She apparently strengthened her influence after caring for Kim Jong-il when he suffered a massive stroke in August 2008. She was also present when Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun met the North Korean leader in August 2009.
Kim Ok majored in piano at a university in Pyongyang and was selected as part of an elite troupe of female entertainers in the early 1980s. Since then, she has been in charge of tending to Kim Jong-il's health, according to intelligence officials.
One high-ranking North Korean official who defected to South Korea recently said, "Kim Ok wields considerable power in North Korea and shouts at high-ranking officials and gives them orders." There are rumors that Kim fathered a son with Kim Ok who is now seven. She is believed to have married the leader in June 2004, when his third wife Ko Yong-hui died.