SEOUL – The wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appeared on state television Monday looking pregnant and fueling expectations of an imminent addition to the ruling Kim dynasty.
Ri Sol Ju was shown standing by her husband at a memorial service to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Kim’s father, former leader Kim Jong Il.
Ri, who caused quite a stir when she emerged on the national scene back in July, had swapped her normal designer outfit for a black funeral hanbok, the traditional Korean dress.
But even the high-waisted, loose-fit dress couldn’t hide a visibly swollen belly, that was swiftly picked up by the South Korean media.
“Ri appeared to be in the late stages of pregnancy,” Yonhap news agency said, while the Chosun Ilbo newspaper predicted on its website that birth “was not far away.”
The fact that Kim Jong Un even had a wife was only revealed in July when pictures emerged of a young woman accompanying the new young leader at official events.
A terse statement from Pyongyang’s state television that month confirmed her identity and the fact that the couple were married. According to intelligence reports cited by the South Korean media, the couple were married in 2009 and already have one child, although that has never been confirmed.
Satellite ‘broken': expert
A North Korean satellite launched into space last week appears to be malfunctioning but could remain in orbit for several years, a leading expert in the United States said Tuesday.
North Korea says the satellite is working. U.S. officials have said it is tumbling in orbit. Data from trackers in South Africa and Britain suggest the brightness of the satellite has been fluctuating, which indicates it is tumbling as it orbits. That likely means a malfunction in the probe’s stabilizers because it was designed to constantly point toward the Earth.
“The best guess at this point is that it is probably broken,” said Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The satellite “is certainly continuing to complete orbits. It is up there and it will be up there for years. But the thing is sort of twirling around.”
McDowell said that since the cause of the malfunction remains unclear, it is conceivable that North Korea could determine how to fix it and regain control.