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N. Korean leader's wife Ri Sol-ju appears in public for first time in over 1 year Updated: 2021-02-17 16:28:26 KST

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's wife has been seen in public alongside her husband for the first time in over twelve months.
Watchers believe it's the regime's way of projecting it has the pandemic under control.
Kim Dami has the details.
After maintaining a low-profile for over a year, Ri Sol-ju, the wife of North Korea's leader is back in the public eye.
The regime's state-run newspaper, the Rodong Shinmun reported Wednesday that she joined her husband for performances to mark Kim's father Kim Jung-il's birthday.
Watchers say Kim and Ri's rare public appearance on Tuesday is the regime's way of showing it's a normal and virus-free country.
"The regime wants to show confidence it has the pandemic under control. It's also aware of rumors from the international community so Ri Sol-ju's appearance aims to show there's internal stability."
Neither social distancing nor the wearing of masks was practiced during the performances.
Speculation had been rife that Ri may be pregnant, as she also skipped major events like the 75th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party last October.
However, it could also be that there were not too many opportunities or reasons for her to be out in public.
"There were not a lot of places for Ri to join Kim due to emergency situations like the pandemic and the natural disasters that happened last summer."
The expert added Ri has instead focused of taking care of her children especially during the health crisis.
In celebration of the event for his grandfather, Kim Jong-un gifted school supplies to orphanages and kindergartens across the regime, attempting to show a softer side through his wife's presence.
South Korea's National Intelligence Service noted Tuesday that no abnormal movement by Ri has been detected over the months, adding she's probably kept a low profile due to the pandemic.
Unlike previous first wives of the regime, Ri has been quite active, accompanying Kim to numerous events and sites, including when he climbed and rode a white horse on Mount Baekdu in 2019.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.
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