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[N. Korea Unpacked] Who is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's wife, Ri Sol-ju? Updated: 2021-03-02 14:48:35 KST

The only woman in North Korea who wears brooches instead of the mandatory loyalty badges that's leader Kim Jong-un's wife, Ri Sol-ju.
North Korean women don't wear accessories like hers because brooches draw attention to the area over the heart where the past leaders' faces should be thus violating the North's conservative and socialist ideology.
Plus, her skirt, falling just above the knee, is shorter than what the communist state allows, which also says a lot about her exceptional status.
And often spotted with designer bags, Ri is the regime's fashion trendsetter.

"Ordinary citizens were confused that Ri had designer headbands, clutches and brooches that we weren't allowed to have. These items were rare, so people went to local markets to buy fake ones made in China."

The thirty-one-year old Ri is not only a fashion leader, she's also an active supporter of her husband on the political stage.
Once a singer for a popular North Korean musical act, the Unhasu Orchestra, she became the first North Korean first lady to accompany a leader to official occasions like his 2018 summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Her feminine image has also helped the regime soften its perception at home and abroad, like when Kim Jong-un sent her to deliver gifts of school supplies to orphanages.
She had kept a low-profile for more than a year, but Ri came back into the public eye last month, which analysts say is the regime's way of showing it's a normal country and that it's free of COVID-19.

"The regime wants to show confidence that it has the pandemic under control. It's also aware of rumors in the international community, so Ri Sol-ju's appearance aims to show that there's internal stability."

Speculation had been rife that she might be pregnant, but observers point out that there were simply not many opportunities or reasons for her to be out in public, especially in an emergency like the pandemic.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.
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