On the evening of the 25th, following a number of public events at which a woman appeared with Kim Jong Eun but went unnamed, the media revealed that the woman is Ri Sol Joo, and that she is indeed his wife.
Ri first appeared at Kim’s side at a performance by the newly formed Moran Hill Orchestra on July 6th, before joining him at Keumsusan Sun Palace [formerly Keumsusan Memorial Palace] on the 8th and on an undated visit to a Pyongyang kindergarten.
However, more than two weeks later during 8PM domestic news reports about a ceremony to commemorate the completion of Rungra People’s Resort on Rungra Islet in the Taedong River, an area famous for also housing the May Day Stadium, it was finally revealed, “During the playing of the welcoming song, our Party and people’s supreme leader, respected Marshal Kim Jong Eun entered the hall with his wife, comrade Ri Sol Joo.”
The decision to reveal the name of Kim’s wife just seven months after the launch of the regime is in stark contrast to the situation in the Kim Jong Il era. His wife was never spoken about in the state media, much less directly referred to as his wife or placed in the forefront in photos of the leader at official functions.
However, the regime is now facing a different situation, and the move is part of work to make Kim Jong Eun appear old and wise enough to rule. While part of the Party propaganda strategy focuses on Kim's modernity derived from youth, there is another aspect that focuses on him appearing mature enough to govern. Marriage serves this element well.
Sources in Seoul believe that Ri started out as a musician with groups including one run by the Ministry of People’s Safety, before marrying Kim Jong Eun and undergoing a six month program of ‘first lady training’ under professors from Kim Il Sung University and government officials.
Although nothing about her career or details such as when she married Kim Jong Eun has been made public inside North Korea, now that she has been very publicly revealed as the supreme leader’s wife it is certain that efforts to idolize her will also slowly gather pace.
This is likely to require creativity, however, since her career as a musician is insufficient for a revolutionary leader’s spouse. Kim Jong Eun’s mother Koh Young Hee was a former dancer with the Mansudae Art Troupe, but this information was deliberately struck from the public record and she was portrayed as a strong woman supporting the people’s leader, Kim Jong Il.