Ri Sol-ju or Lee Seol-ju (Chosŏn'gŭl: 리설주; born c.
1985–89) is the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
North Korean state media has officially identified her as "his wife,
Comrade Ri Sol-ju".
2 Pregnancy and motherhood
3 See also
Kim Jong-un and his family have been characterized as "secretive".
Very little information about
Ri Sol-ju has appeared in official North
Korean sources, but more speculative information has been reported in
In 2012, Ri made several public appearances standing next to the
leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, causing speculation about who she
might be. South Korean intelligence officials tentatively identified
her as Hyon Song-wol, a former singer for the Pochonbo Electronic
Ensemble, a musical group popular in North Korea. However, on
25 July 2012, North Korean state media announced that she was actually
Kim's wife, saying she was "his wife, Comrade Ri Sol-ju".
In July 2012, at an elite gala concert in North Korea, Ri was
stylishly "dressed in a trim black suit in the Chanel tradition",
considered unusual for North Korean women. Along with other
recent changes, such as the firing of a hard-line top general, Kim
Jong-un's marriage is seen by analysts as "a continuation of what is
either a policy change, or a propaganda offensive, or both".
Kenji Fujimoto, the former personal sushi chef of Kim Jong-il, said he
met Ri on a recent trip to North Korea. He described her as "just so
charming... I cannot describe her voice, it's so soft..." As a
parting gift, Ri gave Fujimoto a Christian Dior handbag, which Ri
was earlier reported to have.
From 2012 to 2014, Ri appeared occasionally in the North Korean media,
accompanying her husband to events, but subsequently she has rarely
been seen. She had long periods out of the public view in
2015, 2016, and 2017.
Very little is known for certain about Ri; some analysts have even
said her name "almost certainly is a pseudonym". Various security
analysts, politicians, media and others have made public claims about
her that have not been officially confirmed in North Korean
Ri's reported year of birth has ranged between 1985 and 1989 among
various sources. Ri's family is reportedly from the political
elite; her mother is the head of a gynecology ward and her father is a
professor. She is said to have graduated from Geumsung 2 Middle
School in Pyongyang and studied abroad in China majoring in vocal
music. She is said to be related to Ri Pyong-chol, a former air
force general and close advisor of Kim Jong-un.
JoongAng Ilbo and
some commentators have identified Ri as a singer in the Unhasu
Orchestra that has made several overseas performances.
Reportedly, North Korean officials are "trying to erase her past as a
singer and entertainer by confiscating popular bootleg CDs of her
performances", such as her singing the song "Sobaeksu". She is
reportedly a graduate student at
Kim Il-sung University, pursuing a
PhD in science.
She reportedly visited
South Korea in 2005, as a member of the North
Korean cheerleading team during the Asian Athletics
Championships. She was said to be among 90 cheerleaders who
chanted "We are one!". Ri reportedly told a South Korean teacher
while on the trip: "We want to take classes from the South's teachers
after being reunited as soon as possible."
The BBC, quoting an analyst who spoke to
The Korea Times of South
Korea, reported that Kim's father, Kim Jong-il, had hastily arranged
his son's marriage after suffering a stroke in 2008. The two were
reportedly married in 2009.
Pregnancy and motherhood
Ri possibly gave birth to a child in 2010, possibly a son.
In October 2012, there was speculation about Ri's public
disappearance, and questions arose whether it was the result of a
"breach of discipline" or "pregnancy", but she later
reappeared with her spouse Kim at a military college. It was
followed by news reports in December 2012 that Ri was visibly
pregnant, although North Korean officials did not comment on the
speculation. In March 2013, former NBA basketball player
Dennis Rodman visited
Kim Jong-un in
North Korea and on his return
told the British tabloid newspaper The Sun that Ri had given birth to
a healthy daughter. One South Korean government source speculated
that "doctors induced labor to make sure the child was born in 2012,
which marked the 100th anniversary of North Korean founder Kim
Il-sung", but no exact birth date has been confirmed.
The Guardian in September 2013 that the couple's child, a
girl, is named Ju-ae (Korean: 김주애). and that Jong-un had
"a beautiful family" and was a "good dad."
South Korean intelligence officials reported that Ri gave birth to a
third child of unknown gender in February 2017.
North Korea portal
Select[α] family tree of North Korea's ruling[β] Kim
^ To keep the tree of manageable size, it omits some members, e. g.,
brothers and sisters of Kim Jong-il.
^ Names of Supreme Leaders of the DPRK (and the name of the article
being viewed, if any) are in bold font.
^ Korean names often have a variety of transliterations into English,
which can be confusing. For example, "Kim Jong-chul" may also be
written "Gim Jeong-cheol" or "Kim Jŏng-ch'ŏl" among many other
Korean romanization for more information.
^ Huss, Kan; Frost, Clay. "North Korea's First Family: Mapping the
personal and political drama of the Kim clan". msnbc.com. Retrieved 20
January 2013. (Confirms many, but not all, of the birth and
death years. See individual articles for more references.)
^ Yan, Holly (16 February 2017). "The world's most mysterious family
tree: Kim Jong Un's secretive dynasty is full of drama, death". Design
by Alberto Mier. CNN. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
^ a b c Official biographies of
Kim Jong-suk and
Kim Jong-il give
birth years of 1917 and 1942, respectively.
Kim Ju-ae may have been
born in late 2012 or early 2013.
^ a b c d e f Thayer, Nate (26 July 2012). "
North Korea IDs Mystery
Woman as Kim Jong-Un's Wife—But Who Is She, Really?". The Daily
Beast. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
^ "观看牡丹峰乐团新作音乐会". 내나라. 2014-09-04.
^ "北김정은 옆 그녀들, 전부다 부인 '리설주'?".
머니투데이. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
^ a b "(LEAD) N. Korean leader's wife visited S. Korea in 2005: spy
agency". Yonhap News. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
^ a b c d e Joohee Cho (26 July 2012). "North Korea's First Lady Was
Cheerleader, Ditches Drab Outfits". ABC News. Retrieved 26 July
^ a b c Choe, Sang-hun (26 July 2012). "That Mystery Woman in North
Korea? Turns Out She's First Lady". The New York Times. Retrieved 26
^ "North Korea's secretive 'first family'".
BBC News. 15 February
2007. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
^ "Ri Sol-ju: pass notes No 3,273". The Guardian. 30 October 2012.
Retrieved 6 November 2012.
^ Lewis, Leo (25 July 2012). "Mystery woman
Ri Sol-ju revealed as Kim
Jong-un's bride". The Australian. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
^ "Kim Jong-Un married to mystery woman Ri Sol-Ju". 26 July 2012.
Retrieved 26 July 2012.
^ a b c "
North Korea leader
Kim Jong-un married to Ri Sol-ju". BBC
News. 25 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
^ Sang-hun Choe (25 July 2012). "North Korean Leader Marries". The New
York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
^ Brady, Tara (21 February 2013) In true North Korean fashion, women
are 'encouraged' to choose from 18 officially sanctioned hairstyles
Daily Mail. Retrieved 2 March 2013
^ Hancocks, Paula (19 September 2012). "Kim Jong Il's sushi chef
returns after fleeing for life". CNN. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
^ a b Moss, Hilary (19 September 2012). "Confirmed: When Ri Sol-ju
Speaks, It Sounds Like Raindrops on Roses". The Cut. Retrieved 2
^ Lee, Jeff (9 August 2012). "Ri Sol-ju, first lady of impoverished
North Korea, shows off luxury Dior handbag". China Buzz. Retrieved 5
^ "Ri Sol-Ju Bag: Lady Dior Clutch Debate Strikes North Korea".
LALate. 9 August 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
^ Emma Prestwich (1 November 2016). "Ri Sol-Ju, Kim Jong-Un's Wife,
Hasn't Been Spotted In Public In 7 Months". Huffington Post
^ "North Korea's first lady Ri Sol Ju seen for first time this year".
CNN. May 3, 2015. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
^ Caroline, Mortimer (31 October 2016). "North Korea: Fears for Kim
Ri Sol-ju after she disappears from public for seven
months". The Independent. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
^ "N. Korean leader, wife make appearance at air combat competition".
Yonhap News Agency. 4 December 2016.
^ Robbins, Josh (11 July 2017). "Kim Jong-un's wife seen for the first
time in four months ending growing speculation". IB Times.
^ a b Martin, Simon (28 July 2012). "North Korea's 'first lady' debut
highlights secrecy". RNW Media. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
^ Ryall, Julian (17 December 2012). "North Korea: could Kim Jong-un's
wife be pregnant?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 December
^ a b c Kwon, K. J.; Lai, Alexis (26 July 2012). "Kim Jong Un married
in 2009, according to intelligence service". CNN. Retrieved 30 July
^ O'Connor, Tom (2017-09-27). "Meet Ri Sol Ju, wife of Kim Jong Un and
first lady of North Korea". Newsweek. Retrieved 2018-02-10.
^ Kiyohito Kokita (7 September 2012). "Kim Jong Un's wife shined
before marriage as a singer". Asahi Shimbun Weekly. Missing or
empty url= (help); access-date= requires url= (help)
Kim Jong-un picked out his wife
Ri Sol-ju as she sang during a
concert performance". The Australian. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 31 July
^ "N.Korea Squanders Millions on Kim Family Cult". Chosun Ibo. 30
October 2012. Retrieved 5 November 2012.
^ Taylor, Adam (21 September 2012). "
Kim Jong-un Is Trying To Erase
His Wife's Popstar Past". Business Weekly. Retrieved 19 December
^ a b Ju-min Park (25 July 2012). "
North Korea leader's wife can teach
him about the enemy". Reuters. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
^ a b c d "Keeping up with the Kims: North Korea's elusive first
BBC News. 2017-08-29. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
^ O'Connor, Tom (2017-12-30). "Who are Kim Jong Un's children and does
North Korea have an heir?". Newsweek. Retrieved 2018-02-10.
^ a b "Kim Jong-un's wife reappears after two-month absence". The
Telegraph. 30 October 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
^ a b Kim, Jack; Macfie, Nick (29 October 2012). "
North Korea leader's
wife reported back in public after long silence". Reuters. Retrieved
30 October 2012.
^ Boehler, Patrick (17 December 2012). "Another Lil' Kim? Wife of
North Korea's Kim Jong Un Appears 'Heavily Pregnant'". Time. Retrieved
19 December 2012.
^ Nelson, Sara C. (30 October 2012). "North Korea, Kim Jong Un And
Wife Ri Sol Ju Mark 60th Anniversary of Kim II Sung Military
University in Pyongyang". Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 December
^ "Images suggest
North Korea leader's wife pregnant". South China
Morning Post. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
^ a b c "
Kim Jong-un 'Has a Little Daughter'". Chosun. 20 March 2013.
Retrieved 14 April 2013.
Dennis Rodman lets the world know Kim Jong Un has a daughter".
National Post. Associated Press. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 23 March
Kim Jong-un 'Has 2 Daughters' Chosun 16 May 2013
^ "Dennis Rodman's slip gives away name of North Korean leader's
baby", The Guardian.
Kim dynasty of North Korea
Kim Il-sung (1912–1994)
Kim Jong-il (1941–2011)
Kim Jong-un (1984–)
Kim Hyong-jik (Kim Il-sung's father)
Kang Pan-sok (Kim Il-sung's mother)
Kim Jong-suk (Kim Il-sung's first wife, Jong-il's mother)
Kim Yong-ju (Kim Il-sung's brother)
Kim Song-ae (Kim Il-sung's second wife)
Hong Il-chon (Kim Jong-il's first wife, divorced)
Song Hye-rim (Kim Jong-il's first mistress)
Kim Man-il (Kim Jong-il's brother)
Jang Song-thaek (Kim Jong-il's brother-in-law)
Kim Kyong-hui (Kim Jong-il's sister)
Kim Young-sook (Kim Jong-il's wife)
Ko Yong-hui (Kim Jong-il's second mistress, Jong-un's mother)
Kim Pyong-il (Kim Jong-il's half-brother)
Kim Ok (Kim Jong-il's third mistress)
Kim Yo-jong (Kim Jong-un's sister)
Kim Jong-chul (Kim Jong-un's brother)
Kim Sul-song (Kim Jong-un's half-sister)
Kim Jong-nam (Kim Jong-un's half-brother)
Ri Sol-ju (Kim Jong-un's wife)
Kim Ju-ae (Kim Jong-un's daughter)
Kim Han-sol (Kim Jon