The mysterious life of Kim Jong Un's wife, Ri Sol-ju, who probably has 3 children and frequently disappears from the public eye

Few details are known about Ri Sol-ju, the woman who in 2012 was identified as the wife of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Ri is thought to be 28 now and a mother to three children, according to South Korean intelligence reports. The Hermit Kingdom's secretive government, however, has not confirmed that information.

Here's everything we know about Ri Sol-ju:

Everything we know about Kim Jong Un's wife, Ri Sol-ju
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Everything we know about Kim Jong Un's wife, Ri Sol-ju

Ri Sol-ju was first identified as the wife of Kim Jong Un in July 2012, when North Korean state media made it official.


An international media frenzy had been mounting for weeks over the "mystery woman" spotted with Kim at a a series of public events, including a theater performance featuring Disney characters, and a tribute to Kim's grandfather on the anniversary of his death.

Ri's eventual public introduction was underwhelming, to say the least. North Korean media mentioned her almost as an afterthought during coverage of an amusement park opening in Pyongyang.

"While a welcoming song was resonating," state television reported, "Marshal Kim Jong Un appeared at the ceremony site, with his wife, Comrade Ri Sol-ju."


It's unclear exactly when Kim and Ri got married. Some have reported the wedding was in 2009 and Ri gave birth to a child the next year, while others have said that the couple didn't meet until a classical music concert in 2010.

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The secrecy around their wedding was no surprise to North Koreans and international observers of the Hermit Kingdom. Kim's father never introduced his multiple wives to the public at all.


Little is known about the life Ri led before marrying Kim, but South Korean intelligence reports have said she once studied singing in China, and visited South Korea in 2005 as a member of North Korea's cheerleading squad.


Ri is known for her taste in western fashion — she has been spotted carrying expensive bags by designers like Dior and Chanel.


Her penchant for luxury goods has attracted international criticism. North Korean civilians have struggled for years under famine, drought, and widespread poverty.

(REUTERS/Bobby Yip)

Earlier this year, Ri disappeared from public view for several months, prompting speculation over her well-being. In August, South Korean intelligence reported that she had given birth to a child and dropped out of the public eye because she was pregnant.

It's believed that Ri and Kim now have three children, though the most detailed information comes from former NBA star Dennis Rodman, well known for his controversial friendship with Kim and frequent trips to North Korea. Rodman said he met the couple's second child in 2013, a baby girl named Ju-ae.


"I held their baby Ju-ae and spoke with Ms. Ri as well. [Kim's] a good dad and has a beautiful family," Rodman told The Guardian. Those details have not been independently corroborated.

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

 South Korean media has speculated that Ri may have been pressured to have a third child in the hopes that it would be a boy who could inherit Kim's dictatorship, assuming both of the couple's previous children were girls.


One North Korean defector-turned-researcher, Ahn Chan-il, told South Korean news network YTN that there was "pressure to quickly give birth to a son, because the regime is not so sturdy."

(REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)


Ri doesn't appear in public very often. She's usually seen when Kim celebrates missile test launches, and is always photographed smiling politely, wearing clean-cut, pastel-colored dresses.

Ri was reportedly born into an elite family — her father was a professor and her mother a doctor — but little else is known about her life or how she ultimately became the wife of the world's most notorious living dictator.

See Also:

SEE ALSO: How former basketball star Dennis Rodman became one of the few Americans welcome in Kim Jong Un's North Korea

DON'T MISS: How North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, 33, became one of the world's scariest dictators

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