North Korea's first lady missing from public view for 7 months

Ri Sol Ju was last seen in late March touring an upscale department store.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Oct. 31, 2016 at 1:22 PM
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SEOUL, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- North Korea's first lady has not been seen in public for seven months.

According to information from South Korea's unification ministry, Ri Sol Ju has not been in the public eye since late March, when she visited a newly opened department store in Pyongyang with Kim Jong Un, News 1 reported.

Seoul says North Korea reported 100 instances of Kim appearances in 2016, but Ri only appeared by his side only three times, according to the report.

On Feb. 15, Ri attended an award ceremony and dinner for North Korean scientists after the launch of the Kwangmyongsong-4 earth observation satellite on Feb. 7, visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun on Feb. 17, and was last seen at an upscale department store in Pyongyang on March 28.

During the last visit, Kim wore a stylish blue skirt suit while touring the store filled with North Korea-made "cosmetics, household electronics and food items," according to state media.

Ri typically accompanies Kim on civilian site visits, staying out of public view when the North Korean leader provides field guidance to military personnel or oversees rocket launches.

But Ri was not mentioned in Kim's recent visits to a newly built soap factory, a recently opened eye hospital and a souvenir factory.

There are rumors Ri is pregnant with a second child or is encountering "disharmony," possibly with members of Kim's family, according to News 1.

Ri has been more active in the past. In 2012, she was seen in public 18 times, 22 times in 2013, 15 times in 2014 and seven times in 2015.

North Koreans in the country have said Ri is not well liked because of her lavish lifestyle.

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