Mystery lady again seen with N. Korea's Kim
AFP Monday, July 16, 2012, 12:09 am TWN
SEOUL -- A smartly dressed woman seen with Kim Jong Un at recent public events was Sunday again shown on state television accompanying the North Korean leader, increasing speculation that she could be his wife.
The short-haired brunette was first shown with Kim earlier this month, but official media has not said who she is and so little is known of the young leader that it is not even clear if he is married.
The latest photos aired by state television show what seems to be the same woman, who is apparently in her 20s or 30s and is wearing a yellow polka-dot dress and chic white jacket.
She is standing close to Kim during a visit to a kindergarten, while other officials stay a few steps behind the pair. It is not clear when the visit took place and it is only the third time she has been shown to the outside world.
The woman was seen grinning while standing immediately behind or next to Kim as he hugged and talked to children in Kyongsang Kindergarten.
There have been suggestions that she might be Kim's younger sister, but South Korea's Yonhap news agency said — quoting a Seoul government official who declined to be named — it was "highly likely" the lady was Kim's wife.
"From the protocol point of view, such as this woman's place and table settings, it is highly likely that she's his wife and ... (he) must actually be married," said the official quoted by Yonhap.
The woman has been prominent in all photos released by the state, and the latest ones showed top party cadres — including Kim's powerful uncle Jang Song-Thaek — largely standing behind the couple.
Believed to be in his late 20s, Kim took over from his late father and longtime ruler Kim Jong-Il after his death last December.
There have been mixed views from analysts as to the identity of the woman.
Some have suggested there is little chance she is the leader's wife because North Korea's first ladies are hardly ever pictured.
But Cheong Seong-Chang, of the South's Sejong Institute, said he was "certain" it was Kim's wife.
"By stressing that Kim Jong Un was a married man with a wife ... the North was trying to create the image of him as a stable leader," he said in a recent report.
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