Who Is the Mystery Woman with Kim Jong-un?

/[North] Korean Central News Agency-Yonhap /[North] Korean Central News Agency-Yonhap

A young woman spotted near new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during his father's funeral has drawn international press attention. In a scene from the funeral broadcast by North Korean state TV on Wednesday night, Kim Jong-un is shown paying his last respects to Kim Jong-il flanked by 20 to 30 high-ranking officials at Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang.

A woman who appears to be in her 20s can be seen standing among the entourage in addition to his aunt Kim Kyong-hui (65), and his sister Kim Yeo-jong (24). She is tall, has long hair and a youthful countenance.

She can also be seen confidently walking past Kim Jong-un's uncle Jang Song-taek as he enters the palace, giving rise to speculation that she is Kim Jong-un's wife. Rumors began circulating last year that Kim had married a woman who graduated from the prestigious Kim Il-sung University.

But others suggest she is his secretary. In North Korea, personal secretaries to the leader are believed to wield considerable power. This would explain why she walked so freely past Jang, who is believed to be the power behind the throne. Kim Jong-il's fourth wife Kim Ok used to be his secretary.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 30, 2011 11:30 KST