North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s wife, Ri Sol Ju, appeared for the first time in more than a year on Wednesday, joining her husband at a concert on one of the country’s biggest holidays.
Ri often used to accompany Kim to major public events but had not been seen since January last year at an event for the Lunar New Year holiday.
North Korea analysts said her disappearance stoked speculation over her health and perhaps a potential pregnancy.
The official ruling Worker’s Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun released photos of the pair at the event to mark the birthday of Kim’s late father and former leader Kim Jong Il.
Ri and Kim smiled as they watched the concert at Mansudae Art Theatre in the capital Pyongyang.
Unlike previous events, nobody in the photographs was wearing masks or maintaining social distancing measures.
The newspaper also reported that Kim visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, which houses the embalmed bodies of his father and grandfather, to lay wreaths for the anniversary, called the Day of the Shining Star.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) said on Tuesday that Ri appeared to have avoided outside activities to protect herself from coronavirus infections but was “playing well with their children”.
The NIS believes Ri and Kim have three children but very little is publicly known about them.
North Korea has not confirmed any Covid-19 cases, but the NIS has said an outbreak could not be ruled out as the country had active exchanges with China, where the virus first emerged, before closing the border early last year.