Kim Jong Un's Wife Ri Sol Ju Makes First Public Appearance in Five Months

Ri Sol Ju, the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has appeared in public for the first time in nearly five months.

Ri and her husband attended a performance marking the Lunar New Year holiday at the Mansudae Art Theatre in the capital city Pyongyang on Tuesday, according to the official KCNA news agency.

The supreme leader and his wife appeared at the theater and "amid the playing of the welcome music, the audience raised stormy cheers of 'Hurrah!'" KCNA said.

Kim's aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, whose husband Jang Song Thaek was infamously executed by Kim in 2013, was also present at the event in her first public appearance in two years, according to a video of the concert released on state TV.

A screengrab published by South Korean news agency Yonhap shows the first couple applauding.

A bandage could be seen on the tip of Kim's finger, suggesting he had some sort of injury. He has appeared with bandages on his arms and fingers in the past, and more recently on the back of his head.

However, the party newspaper Rodong Sinmun did not run any images with its report on the appearance and said the concert mostly featured songs about the greatness of the ruling party, NK News reported.

After the performance, the first couple "went up to the stage, held the hands of the performers one by one, congratulated them on the performance, and took a commemorative photo of their love," Rodong reported, according to a translation.

Ri was last seen in public on September 9 last year, when she appeared with her husband to mark the anniversary of the secretive state's founding in a visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the embalmed bodies of Kim's late grandfather and father lie.

North Korea's first lady has no political position and is not expected to appear at events alongside her husband, but she does play a more visible role than the wives of Kim's predecessors.

NK News reported state television released new footage of her riding horses near the "holy" Mount Paektu with Kim, the leader's sister Kim Yo Jong and other officials in a new documentary, titled "2021, A Great Victorious Year" which highlights the role she plays in state propaganda.

Ri had disappeared from public view for more than a year, sparking speculation over her health or a possible pregnancy.

South Korea's National Intelligence Service believes the couple has three children and said the risk of COVID-19 deterred her from spending time outside, however during that absence she was still "playing well with their kids," Reuters reported.

To mark the Lunar New Year, families in Pyongyang visited the Central Zoo and the statues of former leaders with concerts held in cities around the country. The capital also hosted a special horse race at the Mirim Riding Club.

North Korea has not confirmed a COVID-19 outbreak, but has imposed a strict border lockdown while state media report that it is facing considerable hardships, NK News reported.

In January, satellite images showed a train line bringing imports from China had re-opened after more than a year of no rail trade.

Last month, state media reported that Kim had visited a munitions factory which was "producing a major weapon system."

Kim Jong Un,  Ri Sol-ju
North Korean first lady Ri Sol Ju with Leader Kim Jong Un (R) on April 27, 2018 in Panmunjom, South Korea. Ri was seen for the first time in public since September 2021 when she appeared at a Lunar New Year holiday event. Getty