Kim Jong-un and Ri Sol-ju are making North Korea young and hip, says North Korea

What Kim Jong-Un's wedding probably looked like.

North Korea’s new young leader, Kim Jong-un, is married, state media said on Wednesday, putting an end to speculation over the relationship with a woman seen at his side during recent events.

The announcement, which fits a trend the upbeat Kim has followed to break out of the dour management style of his late father, Kim Jong-il, came just two weeks after he was seen at a gala performance accompanied by the woman, with rumors swirling as to whether she was his wife, lover or sister.

“Kim Jong-un’s move appears to give the youth hoping for change, especially young women, a favorable impression of him although it can make conservative old North Koreans uncomfortable,” said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at the Sejong Institute think-tank.

“Although Kim Jong-un continues a one-man dictatorship, he is expected to have a more open attitude in culture than in the Kim Jong-il era.”

Some observers in South Korea speculated she was a singer, Hyon Song-wol, he dated years ago before his father put a stop to it, but who was now back on the scene.

But the North Korean state broadcaster named his wife as Ri Sol-ju, without giving details. It is not clear when the two tied the knot.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency said she had been a member of a troupe of performance artists and had received etiquette training for about six months before taking on the role of first lady, quoting a source familiar with the state’s inner workings.

Recent TV footage showed the two laughing with each other, touching a child’s hair together and clapping while watching a performance featuring western show tunes and Mickey Mouse.

“While a welcoming song was playing, our party and people’s supreme leader, Marshal Kim Jong-un, came out from a ceremony of the completion (of a ‘pleasure ground’) with wife, Ri Sol-ju,” it said.

Kim, in his late-20s, took over the family dynasty last December with the death of his father, whose rule took North Korea deeper into isolation, abject poverty and large-scale political repression.

Kim did it his way

Since then he has taken a more glitzy approach, at least on the surface, to ruling a country which is locked in a stand-off with the West over its nuclear weapons program.

Once the official mourning period was over, the youngest Kim to rule North Korea was seen laughing with fusty old generals, gesticulating in delight at a military parade and, the biggest shock of all, speaking. Most North Koreans went to their graves never having seen Kim the elder speak.

Kim the younger has steadily worked to impose his own stamp on the top leadership of North Korea, and on Sunday ousted Vice Marshal Ri Yong-ho, the country’s leading military figure, who was seen as close to Kim Jong-il.

Kim was named marshal of the army in a move that adds to his glittering array of titles and cements his power. He already heads the Workers’ Party of Korea and is First Chairman of the National Defense Commission.

He is also gearing up to experiment with agricultural and economic reforms after purging Ri Yong-ho for opposing change, a source with ties to both Pyongyang and Beijing told Reuters.

This month’s unusual gala performance, where Kim was seen with his wife, featured Walt Disney’s “It’s A Small World”, a thumping rock version of the theme tune to “Rocky” and Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”, a song that might have particular appeal to the Kim family, whose word is law in North Korea.

Bizarrely for a state which frequently voices its loathing for all things American, it featured a cast of Disney characters, including Winnie the Pooh and Minnie Mouse.

The family does have a previous Disney connection — the ruler’s elder brother, Kim Jong-nam, said he was on his way to Tokyo Disneyland when he was caught illegally entering Japan in 2001.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.