Ri Sol Ju appears in muted attire after nine months of public absence

Kim Seong Hwan  |  2016-12-09 12:21
North Korea's Korean Central New Agency (KCNA) reported on December 4 that Ri Sol Ju was in attendance during recent military inspections by Kim Jong Un. The last time Ri made a public appearance was on March 28 when she visited a newly-constructed commercial district and health complex at the Potong riverside area in Pyongyang.

Ri Sol Ju actively participated in public events together with Kim Jong Un 18 times in 2012, 22 times in 2013, and 15 times in 2014. But her public appearances have since decreased to 7 times last year and 3 times this year. Based on reports by North Koreas official media, the only events Ri attended this year included a ceremonial dinner for the launch of the 'Kwangmyongsong-4' satellite on February 15, a visit to Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun on February 16, and a visit to a commercial district and health complex in March.

It has been suggested that Ri Sol Ju attended the public event in order to quash rumors that she has lost influence to Kim Yo Jong (Kim Jong Uns sister) and to negate perceptions of seclusion and secrecy surrounding the regime.

The appearance may also have been aimed at promoting Kim Jong Uns image as a leader with love for the people by emphasizing his family status, a month ahead of his 2017 New Years address.

Ahn Chan Il, Director of the World North Korea Research Center told Daily NK, "Kim Jong Un must have felt the need to appeal to the population as the end of the year approaches. The authorities are hoping to portray the leader as a family man. 

Ri Sol Ju wore a relatively conservative outfit with a black suit in contrast to her usual choice of fancier clothes and colorful brooches. This may have been to deflect criticism that her clothes 'promote delinquent capitalist tendencies.'

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

 
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