From cheerleader to global stage, North Korea's first lady joins summit dinner

SEOUL, April 27 (Reuters) - Ri Sol Ju first traveled to South Korea more than a decade ago as a cheerleader for North Korea's 2005 athletics team.

On Friday she returned as the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, sharing the global stage with her husband after an historic summit that pledged to end more than 60 years of conflict on the Korean peninsula.

In matching bright pink skirt and jacket and glittery black high heels, Ri smiled as she was greeted by her South Korean counterpart, Kim Jung-sook and later the leaders of the two Koreas.

"I was so glad to hear the summit went well," Ri told South Korean President Moon Jae-In as the four spoke briefly in the lobby of the Peace House in the South Korean side of the border with North Korea.

It was the first time any North Korean leader had brought his wife to a summit with a South Korean president. Kim's father and grandfather who led North Korea before him had never taken their wives to official meetings with other heads of state.

See images from the dinner:

17 PHOTOS
Ri Sol Ju with Kim Jong Un in South Korea
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Ri Sol Ju with Kim Jong Un in South Korea
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pose with Kim's wife Ri Sol Ju and Moon's wife Kim Jung-sook at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greet Kim's wife Ri Sol Ju and Moon's wife Kim Jung-sook at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un applauds with his wife Ri Sol Ju and sister Kim Yo Jong at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un raise a toast with their wives Ri Sol Ju and Kim Jung-sook at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un share a toast with Moon's wife Kim Jung-sook and Kim's wife Ri Sol Ju at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
South Korean President Moon Jae-in's wife Kim Jung-sook and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's wife Ri Sol Ju interact at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walk with Kim's wife Ri Sol Ju and Moon's wife Kim Jung-sook at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
South Korean President Moon Jae-in's wife Kim Jung-sook and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's wife Ri Sol Ju interact at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters?
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet Kim's wife Ri Sol Ju and Moon's wife Kim Jung-sook at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju at a dinner with Song Tao, head of the Chinese Communist Party's international liaison department, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on April 18, 2018. KCNA/via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
Kim Jung-sook, South Korea's first lady, right, and Ri Sol Ju, North Korea's first lady, arrive for a banquet during the inter-Korean summit at the Peace House in the village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Paju, South Korea, on Friday, April 27, 2018. North Korean leader�Kim Jong Un�and South Korean President Moon Jae-in�agreed to finally end a seven-decade war this year, and pursue the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Source: Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps/Pool via Bloomberg
Moon Jae-in, South Korea's president, center, speaks as Ri Sol Ju, North Korea's first lady, fourth left, Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, fifth left, and Kim Jung-sook, South Korea's first lady, fourth right, look on during a banquet at the inter-Korean summit at the Peace House in the village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Paju, South Korea, on Friday, April 27, 2018. Kim�and Moon�agreed Friday to finally end a seven-decade war this year, and pursue the 'complete denuclearization' of the Korean Peninsula. Source: Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps/Pool via Bloomberg
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (L) walk with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (3rd L) and his wife Kim Jung-sook (4th L) before the official dinner at the end of their historic summit at the truce village of Panmunjom on April 27, 2018. - The leaders of the two Koreas held a landmark summit on April 27 after a highly symbolic handshake over the Military Demarcation Line that divides their countries, with the North's Kim Jong Un declaring they were at the 'threshold of a new history'. (Photo by Korea Summit Press Pool / Korea Summit Press Pool / AFP) (Photo credit should read KOREA SUMMIT PRESS POOL/AFP/Getty Images)
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (L) toast with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (R) during the official dinner at the end of their historic summit at the truce village of Panmunjom on April 27, 2018. - The leaders of the two Koreas held a landmark summit on April 27 after a highly symbolic handshake over the Military Demarcation Line that divides their countries, with the North's Kim Jong Un declaring they were at the 'threshold of a new history'. (Photo by Korea Summit Press Pool / Korea Summit Press Pool / AFP) (Photo credit should read KOREA SUMMIT PRESS POOL/AFP/Getty Images)
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (2nd R) are greeted by South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (2nd L) and his wife Kim Jung-sook (R) at the end of their historic summit at the truce village of Panmunjom on April 27, 2018. - The leaders of the two Koreas held a landmark summit on April 27 after a highly symbolic handshake over the Military Demarcation Line that divides their countries, with the North's Kim Jong Un declaring they were at the 'threshold of a new history'. (Photo by Korea Summit Press Pool / Korea Summit Press Pool / AFP) (Photo credit should read KOREA SUMMIT PRESS POOL/AFP/Getty Images)
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (L) pose for a photo with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (2nd R) and his wife Kim Jung-sook (R) at the end of their historic summit at the truce village of Panmunjom on April 27, 2018. - The leaders of the two Koreas held a landmark summit on April 27 after a highly symbolic handshake over the Military Demarcation Line that divides their countries, with the North's Kim Jong Un declaring they were at the 'threshold of a new history'. (Photo by Korea Summit Press Pool / Korea Summit Press Pool / AFP) (Photo credit should read KOREA SUMMIT PRESS POOL/AFP/Getty Images)
Kim Jung-sook, South Korea's first lady, right, speaks with Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, left, as Moon Jae-in, South Korea's president, second left, and Ri Sol Ju, North Korea's first lady, second right, look on ahead of a banquet during the inter-Korean summit at the Peace House in the village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Paju, South Korea, on Friday, April 27, 2018. Kim�and Moon�agreed Friday to finally end a seven-decade war this year, and pursue the 'complete denuclearization' of the Korean Peninsula. Source: Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps/Pool via Bloomberg
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Kim Jong Il, Jong Un's father, was never seen in public with any of his wives.

Little is known about Ri, including her exact age, when she married Kim or whether they had a wedding ceremony.

However, her style and attire have often been the focus of media attention, with state-distributed photograph showing designer handbags by Dior and Chanel hanging off her shoulder.

Ri posed for photographs with her husband, Moon and Moon's wife ahead of the dinner, holding a black clutch and wearing pink lipstick and eyeshadow before attending a dinner hosted by Moon.

In contrast, her sister-in-law Kim Yo Jong, who accompanied Kim Jong Un to the summit from the start on Friday, wore a grey two-piece skirt suit and modest low, black heels.

FIRST LADY

Ri's first official appearance as Kim's wife in North Korean state media was in July 2012 at an opening ceremony for an amusement park, seen holding onto Kim's arm affectionately as they toured the grounds.

Image consultants say she has helped create a softer, more approachable image for Kim that has aided him as he seeks to burnish his credentials as a world leader.

See more on Kim Jong Un's wife:

15 PHOTOS
Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju in China
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Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju in China
This picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on March 27, 2018 and released on March 28, 2018 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju posing for a picture in Beijing. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was treated to a lavish welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secretive trip to Beijing as both sides seek to repair frayed ties ahead of landmark summits with Seoul and Washington. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on March 27, 2018 and released on March 28, 2018 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju posing for a picture in Beijing. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was treated to a lavish welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secretive trip to Beijing as both sides seek to repair frayed ties ahead of landmark summits with Seoul and Washington. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - This picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on March 27, 2018 and released on March 28, 2018 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) waving from his train as it prepares to depart from Beijing railway station. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was treated to a lavish welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secretive trip to Beijing as both sides seek to repair frayed ties ahead of landmark summits with Seoul and Washington. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on March 27, 2018 and released on March 28, 2018 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (front 2nd R) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (R) visiting the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was treated to a lavish welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secretive trip to Beijing as both sides seek to repair frayed ties ahead of landmark summits with Seoul and Washington. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on March 27, 2018 and released on March 28, 2018 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (front 2nd R) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (front R) visiting the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was treated to a lavish welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secretive trip to Beijing as both sides seek to repair frayed ties ahead of landmark summits with Seoul and Washington. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on March 27, 2018 and released on March 28, 2018 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) waving from his train as it prepares to depart from Beijing railway station. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was treated to a lavish welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secretive trip to Beijing as both sides seek to repair frayed ties ahead of landmark summits with Seoul and Washington. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on March 27, 2018 and released on March 28, 2018 shows China's President Xi Jinping (2nd R), his wife Peng Liyuan (R), North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (L) posing for a picture in Beijing. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was treated to a lavish welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secretive trip to Beijing as both sides seek to repair frayed ties ahead of landmark summits with Seoul and Washington. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on March 27, 2018 and released on March 28, 2018 shows China's President Xi Jinping (2nd R), his wife Peng Liyuan (R), North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (3rd L) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (L) during their meeting in Beijing. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was treated to a lavish welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secretive trip to Beijing as both sides seek to repair frayed ties ahead of landmark summits with Seoul and Washington. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on March 27, 2018 and released on March 28, 2018 shows China's President Xi Jinping (2nd L), his wife Peng Liyuan (L), North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (2nd R) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (R) during lunch in Beijing. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was treated to a lavish welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secretive trip to Beijing as both sides seek to repair frayed ties ahead of landmark summits with Seoul and Washington. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on March 26, 2018 and released on March 28, 2018 shows China's President Xi Jinping (2nd R), his wife Peng Liyuan (R), North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (L) walking in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was treated to a lavish welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secretive trip to Beijing as both sides seek to repair frayed ties ahead of landmark summits with Seoul and Washington. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on March 26, 2018 and released on March 28, 2018 shows China's President Xi Jinping (centre L), his wife Peng Liyuan (8th L), North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre R) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (9th R) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was treated to a lavish welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secretive trip to Beijing as both sides seek to repair frayed ties ahead of landmark summits with Seoul and Washington. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on March 26, 2018 and released on March 28, 2018 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (L) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (2nd L) being greeted by Chinese officials in Beijing. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was treated to a lavish welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secretive trip to Beijing as both sides seek to repair frayed ties ahead of landmark summits with Seoul and Washington. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on March 26, 2018 and released on March 28, 2018 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) during a dinner banquet at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was treated to a lavish welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secretive trip to Beijing as both sides seek to repair frayed ties ahead of landmark summits with Seoul and Washington. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on March 26, 2018 and released on March 28, 2018 shows China's President Xi Jinping (2nd R), his wife Peng Liyuan (R), North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (L) walking in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was treated to a lavish welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secretive trip to Beijing as both sides seek to repair frayed ties ahead of landmark summits with Seoul and Washington. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on March 26, 2018 and released on March 28, 2018 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre R) arriving with his wife Ri Sol Ju (centre L) at the train station in Beijing. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was treated to a lavish welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secretive trip to Beijing as both sides seek to repair frayed ties ahead of landmark summits with Seoul and Washington. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
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During his surprise visit to China last month, Chinese state television gave similar coverage to Kim's visit with President Xi Jinping as they did to Xi's meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump last year.

Ri was there with her husband and met Xi and Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan, winning praise from social media users in China who called her "beautiful" and compared her to pop stars.

"Kim Jong Un wants to be seen as a respected state leader inside his country and out," said Jeong Yeung-tae, head of the Institute of North Korea Studies in Seoul.

"By bringing his wife along, he's saying 'Look at me, I'm as much of a country leader as you are.'"

Ri's status within North Korea has also risen in recent weeks, after state media began referring to her as First Lady during Ri and her husband's visit to China.

That was the first time the title was used in North Korea in more than 40 years.

Prior to this, Ri had been called "comrade" or simply, "wife of Kim Jong Un."

According to South Korea's Ministry of Unification, the last time North Korean state media referred to someone as First Lady was in 1974 for Kim Song Ae, the wife of Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of Kim Jong Un.

State media has also called her "respected Ri Sol Ju," an adjective rarely used for members other than the North's leadership. Kim Jong Un's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, is referred to by her party position.

Analysts said that doesn't mean Ri is of a higher rank than Kim Yo Jong.

"In North Korea, the wife of the leader does not have many roles...If the wife tries to do something political then she would have a hard time," Jeong, the analyst, said.

"The sister has a powerful role as her brother's helper. At the end of the day, Ri is just Kim Jong Un's wife," he added.

Friday's summit and another between North Korea and the United States scheduled for late May or June are expected to lend more information about the couple.

South Korean intelligence officials have briefed parliament officials that Ri and Kim have three children.

Former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman, who has frequently visited North Korea, said he met their second child in 2013.

See more on North Korea's first lady:

7 PHOTOS
Kim Jong-un's wife, Ri Sol-ju
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Kim Jong-un's wife, Ri Sol-ju
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 29, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory, as his wife Ri Sol-Ju (R, floral dress) looks on. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 29, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (2nd L) inspecting the Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory, as his wife Ri Sol-Ju (R) looks on. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 29, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) inspecting the Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory, as his wife Ri Sol-Ju (2nd R) looks on. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 10, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (front C) and his wife Ri Sol-Ju (front 2nd L) attending an art performance dedicated to nuclear scientists and technicians, who worked on a hydrogen bomb which the regime claimed to have successfully tested, at the People's Theatre in Pyongyang. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 10, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (centre row 2nd L) and his wife Ri Sol-Ju (centre row L) attending an art performance dedicated to nuclear scientists and technicians, who worked on a hydrogen bomb which the regime claimed to have successfully tested, at the People's Theatre in Pyongyang. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken by North Korean news agency KCNA (Korean Central News Agency) on March 2, 2017 and released on March 3 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) and his wife Ri Sol-Ju (2nd R) visiting the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School in Pyongyang to plant trees with its students on a tree planting day. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
This March 2, 2017 picture released by North Korean news agency, KCNA (Korean Central News Agency) on March 3, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) and his wife Ri Sol-Ju (front 2nd R) visiting the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School in Pyongyang to plant trees with its students on the Tree-planting Day. REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
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(Reporting by Christine Kim, Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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