You may see North Korea’s Kim Jong Un everywhere on the news, but someone special in his life is often missing from the limelight. Ri Sol Ju is the country’s first lady, making her somewhat of a public figure by default. But little is known about her. Details about her family, her life before marriage, and even her real name are all hotly debated.
Let’s look at what we know (or think we know) about Ri Sol Ju, and her ultra-secretive marriage to Kim Jong Un (No. 9 discusses who set them up.)
1. If Kim and Ri dated or were lovers, no one knew it.
When Ri first appeared, some speculated she and Kim were dating or secret lovers gone public. However, Andrei Lankov, author of many books on North Korea, told CNN the “public appearance of a leader’s girlfriend or lover would be unthinkable.” Even mentioning Ri, let alone her public appearances, is unusual compared to Kim’s predecessors.
The existence of his grandfather’s first wife was “never even hinted at,” says Lankov. Kim’s dad never mentioned his first wife until her death. His second wife was mentioned in passing 15 years after they married.
Next: Could Kim and Ri have had a relationship in the past?