North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s wife, Ri Sol Ju, has appeared in state media for the first time in more than a year, joining her husband at a concert during one of the country’s biggest holidays.
The official newspaper Rodong Sinmun released photos of the pair at the event on Wednesday to mark the birthday of Kim’s late father and former leader Kim Jong Il.
Ri, who often accompanied Kim to key public events, had not been seen since January last year when she was pictured at an event for the Lunar New Year holiday, stoking speculation over her health and potential pregnancy.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) told legislators on Tuesday that Ri appeared to have refrained from outside activities to reduce the risk from coronavirus but was “playing well with their kids.”
The NIS believes Ri and Kim have three children but little is publicly known about them.
North Korea has not confirmed any COVID-19 cases, but the NIS has said an outbreak could not be ruled out because of the country’s close relationship with China, where the virus first emerged. Pyongyang closed its border early last year.
Ri and Kim smiled as they watched the concert at Mansudae Art Theatre in the capital of Pyongyang, surrounded by elderly men. Unlike several previous events, nobody in the photographs was wearing a mask and no social distancing measures appeared to be in force.
The newspaper of the ruling Workers’ Party also reported that Kim visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, which houses the embalmed bodies of his father and grandfather, to lay wreaths for the anniversary, called the Day of the Shining Star.