North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's wife Ri Sol-ju had another rival for the position of first lady of the most repressive country in the world, according to a North Korean source on Tuesday.
The source said Kim contemplated marriage to Seo Un-hyang. Like Ri and his ex-girlfriend Hyon Song-wol, who was executed by firing squad earlier this year, Seo was a singer with the Unhasu Orchestra.
She studied music at university and became a popular actress in propaganda films. The sources said Seo was "a good singer and had an outgoing personality," which gave her the confidence to laugh at her mistakes while performing in front of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and his son.
"There were rumors that Kim Jong-un fell for her western features," the source said.
But Ri beat Seo to the position of first lady at the last minute because she looks a little like the wife of nation founder Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-suk. The propaganda value of the resemblance was strongly impressed on the leader-in-waiting.
North Koreans revere Kim Jong-suk as the mother of their country and mark her birthday (Dec. 24) as a national holiday.
Kim similarly emulates his grandfather's hairstyle and dress.
"Ri was picked rather quickly in order to dispel concerns over the new leader's young age," the source said.
One researcher at a state-run think tank said, "Ri Sol-ju performed on stage until September 2011, three months before Kim Jong-il died." The researcher added, "If she had already been chosen as Kim Jong-un's bride by then, she would have stopped performing."