North Korea’s highly secretive leader has made a rare public appearance with his wife.
King Jong-un was also accompanied by an influential auntie who is rarely seen in public – and whose husband he had executed.
The trio attended a theatre performance in Pyongyang to celebrate Lunar New Year, state television showed, marking a rare public display from the ruling family.
Outings undertaken by the ruling clan in front of cameras are infrequent and have been even rarer since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kim’s wife, Ri Sol-ju, was last seen in September 2020 when she joined her husband in visiting the embalmed bodies of Kim’s late grandfather and father on the anniversary of the country’s founding.
The most recent clip shows aunt Kim Kyong-hui, a once-powerful figure in the ruling party, who has not been seen since January 2020.
As daughter of the regime’s founder, Kim Il-sung, she had a central role for decades and was a close advisor to her nephew when he took the reins of power almost a decade ago.
Her position was seemingly in peril after her husband was accused of treason and executed by firing squad in 2012, on the orders of Kim Jong-un.
She disappeared from public entirely but made a surprise comeback in 2019 and now appears to be back in her newphew’s inner circle.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) said in 2017 that she was dealing with an unspecified illness outside Pyongyang.
The leader’s wife had once garnered international attention as she often accompanied Kim on social, business and even military outings, in a stark break from his father, Kim Jong-il, who was rarely seen in public with any of his wives.
But she was absent from state media for more than a year before being seen attending a concert last February, fuelling speculation over her health and potential pregnancy.
South Korean intelligence believes the couple have three children but virtually nothing is publicly known about them.
Kim has ordered several missile launches this month in a bid to put pressure on the US to restart negotiations.
The country is crippled by economic sanctions and starvation is reportedly rife but previous talks to scale back nuclear efforts in return for economic relief collapse under Donald Trump in 2019.
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement today accusing Washington of continued hostility against the North and questioning the sincerity of its dialogue offers.
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