Kim Kyong-hui has appeared in public for the first time in over six years, ending long-running rumors that she had been purged by the regime.
Pyeongyang's state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended a concert marking Lunar New Year's Day.
Accompanying him were Kim's wife Ri Sol-ju, his sister Kim Yo-jong, and his aunt Kim Kyong-hui.
On the broadcast, Kim Kyong-hui was spotted sitting between Ri Sol-ju and Kim Yo-jong.
Kim Kyong-hui is a daughter of North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung and a younger sister of the regime's previous leader and Kim Jong-un's father, Kim Jong-il.
Her public appearance is drawing a lot of attention as it's her first since her husband Jang Song-thaek was executed.
Jang who was the number 2 man within the regime was purged and later executed on charges of treason and corruption in December 2013.
Since then, Kim Kyong-hui was stripped of major government posts and has not appeared in public, which led to speculation she may have suffered the same fate as her husband.
But Seoul's National Intelligence Service told the National Assembly in August 2017 that she was near Pyeongyang, receiving treatment for diabetes.
Watchers say Kim Kyong-hui's appearance is intended to highlight the solidarity of Kim's family as the regime plans to confront protracted international sanctions.
"Kim Kyong-hui's reappearance is to dispel the idea that Kim Jong-un's family faces difficulties, which seemed quite likely through the deaths of Jang Song-thaek and Kim Jong-nam. The regime aims to show off the harmony within the Kim family and unity of Paek-du bloodline."
But they add, it's unlikely she'll assume major government posts given her age and weakened political status.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.