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
National

Dogs are capable of feeling jealousy - U.S.…

By Curtis Skinner(Reuters) - Dogs are a man's best friend, and research released on Wednesday says canines want to keep it that way.Dogs are capable…

Local

G train riders brace for five-week shutdown

G train service will be suspended between Brooklyn and Queens between Friday, July 25, and Tuesday, Sept. 2.

International

Peaches Geldof's death was drugs-related, coroner rules

LONDON (Reuters) - The death of Peaches Geldof, the daughter of musician and Band Aid founder Bob Geldof, was drugs-related, a coroner ruled on Wednesday.The…

Local

Family, supporters gather in Brooklyn for Eric Garner…

Family members gathered on Wednesday for the funeral of Eric Garner, who died shortly after police put him in a banned chokehold as they arrested him.

Going Out

5 must-try dishes at Edible Manhattan's Good Beer

Rooting out the exotic amid the New York City bar scene is noble quest. But if you’d like to have it all come to you,…

Books

Art imitates life (almost) in David Shapiro's new…

David Shapiro talks about his book, "You're Not Much Use To Anyone."

Movies

Dakota Fanning's indie growing pains on 'Very Good…

Dakota Fanning on her latest "Very Good Girls."

Entertainment

Britney Spears launches new lingerie line and fans…

Women everywhere can say that they are not that innocent when Britney Spears launches her new lingerie and loungewear line. “Every woman should feel confident…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

MLB

Brandon McCarthy finds his calling on Twitter

Yankees starter Brandon McCarthy joined Twitter three year ago for the same reason many people do: to get news quickly.

Sports

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running…

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running game a boost

Food

Recharge with a post-workout smoothie from Nicky Hilton

Some people can roll out of bed right as their alarm goes off. And that alarm isn’t set for 20 minutes before they have to…

Education

Colleges are increasingly embracing the concept of gender-neutral…

  Northwestern University recently made headlines after announcing that it would be installing two gender-neutral bathrooms in the university's student center. “These are two gender-open…

Career

How to prepare to interview for your dream…

    Congratulations! You landed a job interview at your dream company! A lot of hard work has gone into determining which companies to apply…

Style

The shirtdress is a summer must-have

  We love throwing on our boyfriend’s shirt and a pair of jeans (no matter how much he grumbles that it’s his turn to wear the…