December 05, 2016 10:33
The wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reappeared in public after an absence of nine months. The official [North] Korean Central News Agency on Sunday said Ri Sol-ju accompanied Kim to a combat training competition by the Air Force.
Ri had previously gone to ground for up to four months when she was apparently pregnant, but never this long.
Speculation flourished in the news vacuum, with rumors circulating that she had fallen out of favor with Kim, was pregnant again or was being sidelined by Kim's younger sister Yo-jong.
A Unification Ministry official said the North Korean propaganda machine has usually relied on Ri to make Kim look softer or more modern. "We're looking into why North Korean authorities have wheeled her out again at a time when the U.S. leadership is undergoing change and the UN Security Council passed new sanctions against the North."
Kim's latest photo op marked his ninth visit to a military base since Nov. 4.
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