Photo: KCNA via AP
Wild theories are flying about the disappearance of the North Korean leader’s wife, Ri Sol-ju, who hasn’t been seen for 40 days.Many suspect she is being punished for some wrongdoing. Writes Julian Ryall in the Telegraph:
Ri’s appearances marked a major departure from traditional images of North Korean women … She may have gone too far, however, by replacing the Kim lapel badge with more feminine flowered brooches.
Commenting that in pictures of Ri without the all-important Kim badge that she looked “confident,” the NK News web site suggested that her fashion choices “may have riled some of the older and more conservative figures within the leadership.”
Another web site claimed that senior members of the ruling Workers’ Party had identified a “lack of dedication to the Kims” and declared this was “completely unacceptable, with repercussions to ensue.”
Pretty crazy, right?
But there’s another theory, mentioned by Ryall at the end of his article, which we think sounds more reasonable. (Note: rumours and speculation are the only means of reporting on North Korea.)
Ri could be pregnant.
It would certainly make sense.
Ri first appeared in public as Kim’s wife toward the end of July, even though the couple had reportedly been married since 2009. Perhaps pregnancy prompted Kim to go public with the marriage to establish legitimacy for a potential child—even if they weren’t ready to announce the pregnancy. (There is a rumour that Ri had a kid back in 2010, but it was never confirmed and anyway doesn’t preclude this theory.)
After a few weeks of appearing in public with her husband, perhaps Ri was hidden away before her baby started to show.
If Ri became pregnant around one month before her first public appearance, then her due date would be in April— and this “mysterious disappearance” could last for another six months.
Another reason to believe in pregnancy rather than some crazy political conspiracy is that Kim seems to be on pretty top of things.
Kim has consolidated power, while the country increased luxury imports, closed a notorious secret prison, finished building a decades-old super hotel, reformed its agriculture system, signed deals with Russia, talked about economic reform, discovered minerals, cloned the iPad, and made a big move toward Western culture.
The Supreme Leader seems to be at the height of his power and unlikely to let his wife be rebuked by party bureaucrats.
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